Special prosecutor files replacement charges against GI terror suspect
Arrested last September after suspicious package forced building evacuation
GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - There are two new developments in the case against a Grand Island man accused of sending a suspicious package to the Hall County Election Commissioner.
Clinton Garno, 31, was arrested in September after an incident in which a suspicious package had forced the evacuation of the Hall County Administration Building. Shortly thereafter he was charged with 38 counts of terroristic threats.
In November, Garno’s attorney asked that County Attorney Marty Klein be disqualified since the Hall County board, which meets in the administration building, decided his annual budget. Garno’s attorney argued that was a conflict of interest for Klein. In December, District Judge Andrew Butler granted the motion, dismissing Klein, but also the Hall County Public Defender. Butler also disqualified himself as well as all of the district court judges assigned to Hall County. His ruling on the disqualifications was based on the argument that all three entities’ budgets were controlled by the Hall County Board.
The Nebraska Supreme Court then appointed Adams County District Judge Stephen Illingworth to hear the case. A special prosecutor from the Nebraska Attorney General’s office and a court appointed public defender from the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy were appointed to argue the case going forward.
Before the disqualifications Garno’s attorney had asked that the dozens of terroristic threats charges be thrown out for insufficient evidence. On Feb. 11, the special prosecutor filed charges of felony Terroristic Threats, felony Placing a False Bomb and misdemeanor Obstructing Government Operations. The other charges were dropped and Garno’s new attorney withdrew the request to have them thrown out.
On Feb. 17, Garno waived his arraignment hearing in district court and entered a written plea of not guilty to the three new charges. A pre-trial hearing date is scheduled March 11.
If convicted on all three of the new charges, Garno could get a combined max penalty of six years in prison.
Court records show that a package about 2.5 feet long, three inches wide and with three black Styrofoam cushions attached to it was mailed to the Hall County Election Commissioners office Sept. 14. A self-addressed envelope was on the package. Inside the envelope was a voter registration form on which was written “F### off NWO.” An investigator later learned that the abbreviation NWO stands for New World Order.
Inside the package was a small pump spray bottle with a blue liquid which testing later revealed was harmless.
Garno’s address is an apartment building near the Hall County Administration building. Investigators checking surveillance video identified Garno and a package similar to that found that morning at the administration building. Investigators traced some of the materials used in the package to Garno’s place of work.
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