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COUNCIL BLUFFS — An Omaha man was charged Friday in federal court with making threats against U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst.
Court records indicate the man, identified as Robert W. Simet, 64, believed the senator to be part of ISIS, and he told others he might kill her at an event on Saturday in Pacific Junction.
Simet is charged in U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Iowa with threatening to assault a United States official.
An affidavit for the complaint shows Simet was identified as the suspect by employees and others at Loess Hills Harley-Davidson in Pacific Junction. Ernst was scheduled to speak Saturday at the shop and lead a motorcycle ride to Hamburg.
Evan York, a deputy with the Mills County Sheriff's Office, contacted a Federal Bureau of Investigations agent on Thursday after he received a complaint about the threats.
Special Agent Jonathan Robitaille talked to motorcycle shop employees later that day who told him Simet knew Ernst was going to make an appearance at the shop, the affidavit shows.
Simet also told the employees he thought Ernst was part of ISIS and made 'alarming' statements that made them fear for the senator's safety.
On Friday, Robitaille interviewed another employee who stated Simet said he didn't know if he should come to the event on Saturday because he would be arrested, the affidavit shows. Simet said if he did go, he would take 'everybody with him,' which the employee took to mean Simet was going to 'kill' people if he showed up.
The affidavit shows another witness told the agent that the suspect also talked about a conspiracy regarding President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin and ISIS. The suspect said 'everyone in the government needs to be killed off' — specifically, all members of Congress should be 'killed.'
Using a credit card receipt and copy of Simet's driver's license, Robitaille was able to track down Simet's address in Nebraska.
The affidavit states when Robitaille went to Simet's house, he found many of the windows covered by aluminum foil and a security camera attached to the exterior. Two vehicles parked behind the house were registered to Simet, who did not come to the door.
There are no details in court documents of when and where Simet was arrested.
According to the affidavit, Simet registered a firearm in 2007. He was convicted of felony burglary in Nebraska in 1975 but received a full pardon in 2000 with restoration of gun rights. He also was convicted of assault and battery, a misdemeanor, in 2013.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Helen Adams in Des Moines on Friday ordered Simet to remain in jail pending a preliminary hearing and detention hearing set for Tuesday by video from Council Bluffs, where Simet is in custody.
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