Montana man intends to plead guilty to threatening US Sen. Jon Tester

BILLINGS, Mont. — A Montana man plans to plead guilty to threatening to kill Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester under the terms of a deal filed Monday by federal prosecutors.

Anthony James Cross of Billings faces up to 10 years in prison if the plea deal is accepted by the court. A second charge, based on allegations that Cross also threatened to kill President Joe Biden, would be dismissed at sentencing, according to a filing by his attorney.

A hearing date has not yet been scheduled.

Cross, 30, has been in jail since late April, when he was arrested on state charges for allegedly threatening a neighbor with a pellet gun. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and was scheduled to stand trial in late October, but the proceedings have been postponed, court records show.

Threats against government officials in the US have steadily increased in recent years, including against members of Congress and their spouses, election workers and local elected officials.

Federal prosecutors alleged in a September indictment that Cross said on April 10, “I will personally kill Joe Biden,” and that on April 17 he threatened Tester’s life. The indictment did not indicate how the threats were made.

Cross’ federal defender, Gillian Gosch, did not return a voicemail requesting comment. A phone number for Cross’ attorney in the state case, Robert Kelleher Jr., was repeatedly busy.

Tester’s office declined comment and the White House did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

The plea deal comes after another Montana man, Kevin Patrick Smith of Kalispell, was sentenced in August to 2.5 years in prison for threatening to kill Tester in voicemails left at his office in Kalispell.

A third Montana man accused of making threats against a top Washington official pleaded not guilty in October and is awaiting trial. Richard Lee Rogers of Billings has denied allegations that he threatened to attack and kill former Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in phone calls.

Rogers’ attorney on Monday asked a judge to postpone his trial, which was set to begin next month.