ANCHORAGE — Two Pennsylvania men accused of harassing Sarah Palin’s lawyers in Alaska by phone plan to forgo trial and again plead guilty, this time without the benefit of a plea agreement.
A federal judge in December rejected plea deals for Shawn Christy, 20, and his father, Craig Christy, and ordered them to stand trial in early January. In issuing the order, U.S. District Judge Timothy Burgess cited what he described as a disturbing pattern of threats. He said convictions would likely result in him requiring psychological evaluations by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons for the two before sentencing.
The Christys are charged with making harassing telephone calls and face penalties including up to two years in prison and fines of up to $250,000. The rejected plea agreements would have let them avoid prison time and six-figure fines.
Craig Christy, 48, is set for a plea change hearing Friday in Anchorage.
His wife, Karen Christy, said Tuesday that her son indicated he intends to also plead guilty without a deal with prosecutors. She doesn’t know why the two decided to skip a trial by jury.
“In my opinion, I would rather do what needs to be done so we can get this over with,” she said. “And I don’t know if they would actually get a fair trial in Alaska.”
Shawn Christy filed a notice with the court in December saying he intends to plead guilty. A second notice was filed Tuesday saying he wishes to preserve his objection to the court’s denial of the plea agreement and that a motion for reconsideration will be filed Friday, when Christy had been set for trial.
The Christys were arrested in Pennsylvania in August and are in custody in Anchorage. Prosecutors say the men were upset about state restraining orders issued on behalf of the former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate, along with Palin family members and friends.
The restraining orders were issued after Palin left office.
The restraining order against Shawn Christy was imposed in 2010 after he was accused of stalking Palin. It was renewed last year after Palin testified that Shawn Christy appeared to be sending a clear signal when he made a one-day visit to Alaska on her February birthday. In her testimony, Palin also said she feared Christy’s parents because of their assertions that she had a sexting relationship in 2009 with their son when he was a teen.
The order against Craig Christy was issued last spring after he was accused of leaving multiple harassing telephone messages for Palin’s parents.
The state restraining orders against the men have been extended another six months.
The men later acknowledged making harassing phone calls from Pennsylvania to Palin’s attorney, John Tiemessen. Reached by phone in his Fairbanks office, Tiemessen declined to comment Tuesday.
In one obscenity-riddled message, Craig Christy threatened to kill Tiemessen, and in another message, Shawn Christy said he might have sex with Palin, according to an FBI affidavit. Shawn Christy also threatened to come to Alaska and rape one of the attorneys, the affidavit says.
Tiemessen’s offices in Anchorage and Fairbanks received hundreds of calls from the Christys in early August, including about 250 calls on one day, with some of the calls involving threats against Tiemessen and Palin, according to the document.