LANSING, Mich. — A man who reportedly threatened to kill a state representative has now been charged with multiple felonies after he allegedly made a threatening phone call Thursday claiming there was a bomb at the Michigan Capitol building.
Authorities quickly determined the bomb threat to be false, according to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office.
Michael Varrone, a 48-year-old Charlotte man, was arrested without incident outside his home Thursday afternoon and is currently lodged at the Lansing City Jail.
He was arraigned Friday in a Lansing district court on two counts of false report or threat of terrorism – a 20-year felony – and one count of false report or threat of bomb/harmful device, which is a four-year felony.
One count of false report or threat of terrorism is related to a phone call Varrone allegedly made in December in which he threatened the life of state Rep. Cynthia Johnson.
The other two charges stem from Thursday’s reported bomb threat.
The court set Varrone’s bond at $50,000 cash.
“Threats to our democracy must not be tolerated, and my office will work tirelessly to ensure the people who work and visit our Capitol can do so safely,” Nessel said. “I am grateful this incident did not result in any serious injury or harm. However, I hope this incident and the disgraceful tragedy that occurred Wednesday at our nation's Capitol in Washington, D.C., can serve as reminders of the security measures we must work to maintain and improve to protect the sanctity of our democracy and the safety of our people.”
On Dec. 12, Varrone reportedly called the Michigan House of Representatives six times and on at least one occasion threatened the life of Rep. Johnson and her family members, according to the complaint.
Around 6:45 a.m. Thursday, Varrone allegedly telephoned a control operator at the Capitol complex and said everyone needed to evacuate because the building was going to explode.
The employee immediately reported the bomb threat to Michigan State Police security officers stationed at the Capitol.
Capitol staff were then notified to ensure their safety and the building – which had already been closed to the public – was closed to staff.
Authorities performed a sweep of the premises and by 9 a.m. had confirmed there was no real threat.
Varrone has a probable cause conference scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Jan. 22 and a preliminary exam scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Jan. 28.
See the charging documents here.