HAMMOND — A Hobart man is prepared to plead guilty to charges he threatened President Donald Trump’s life.
U.S. District Court papers, released this weekend, say 20-year-old Steffon Gonzalez has signed a plea agreement granting him leniency in return for his admission to felony charges that he posted a threatening message on Facebook March 28 on his home computer.
The agreement states Gonzalez’s threat was prompted by a rally being held that day in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which Gonzalez saw being live streamed by Fox 32 News in Chicago.
Gonzalez admits he publicly posted comments on Facebook, “Standing outside with my .22 long rifle ready to kill trump I will be on the news” and “It's so crazy how I got a big 30x6 chambered to blow his head off wait till he starts walking I’m right outside….(where) he’s at.”
Gonzalez said he falsely denied posting the comments two days later when Secret Service agents came to his home and questioned him, claiming his Facebook account had been hacked or that another family member did it.
U.S. Secret Service agents and Hobart police found bullets and gunpowder, but no firearm at his Hobart residence.
Authorities arrested him March 30. He has remained in pre-trial custody since then. A federal grand jury indicted Gonzalez last April.
Gonzalez also would plead guilty to a charge of obstruction of justice, alleging he called his girlfriend from a recorded telephone line in the jail where he was being held and asked her to delete his Facebook page and the evidence of his illicit threats.
No hearing has yet been scheduled for Gonzalez to formally plead guilty. He is currently scheduled to stand trial Sept. 23.
He faces a maximum penalty of five years for the alleged threats and 20 years of convicted of obstruction of justice.
The plea agreement states the U.S. Attorney will recommend that Gonzalez should be sentenced to the least amount of prison time recommended by federal sentencing guidelines in return for his admission of guilt and avoiding the need for a jury trial.
The Lake County prosecutor’s office previously dismissed a state charge against Gonzalez over his threat against the president.
State court records indicate Gonzalez is scheduled to appear in Lake Superior Court July 25 to plead guilty to a 2018 charge alleging he intimidated another man last fall.
Gonzalez had been ordered in that case to undergo anger management counseling and was placed in the Lake County Community Corrections program until he was released on house arrest about a month before he made his threatening Facebook posts.