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September 2, 2014

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Feds: Inmate sends Obama threat to wrong address

PITTSBURGH — A convicted Pennsylvania child molester has pleaded not guilty to sending a threatening letter to President Barack Obama — albeit to the wrong address.

Thirty-four-year-old Joseph Savage, of West Leisenring, entered the plea when he appeared before a federal magistrate on Monday. His defense attorney, Melvin Vatz, declined to comment on the charge.

Federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh say Savage mailed the letter in October 2012, while he was in the Fayette County Prison, about 40 miles south of Pittsburgh, awaiting trial on the molestation charges.

He's since been sentenced to state prison for 12½ to 25 years on the molestation and other charges.

He allegedly threatened to torture and kill the president when he's released from prison, which state corrections officials say could be as long as the year 2037.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

A convicted child molester was charged with sending a threatening letter to President Barack Obama — albeit to the wrong address.

Joseph Savage was due to appear before a federal magistrate on Monday. Federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh said the 34-year-old mailed the letter from the Fayette County Prison while he was awaiting trial in October 2012.

The letter was sent to 1400 Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, D.C. The White House, which is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., received it anyway and turned it over to authorities.

The U.S. attorney's office in Pittsburgh did not disclose the contents of the letter, beyond the description contained in a two-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury last month. According to the indictment, Savage threatened "to kill and to kidnap and to inflict bodily harm" on an unspecified member of the president's family and to "torture and murder the president upon being released from prison."

Savage, of West Leisenring, is serving 12½ to 25 years at the State Correctional Institution at Houtzdale, about 40 miles south of Pittsburgh. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, his minimum sentence expires Feb. 2, 2025. If he serves his maximum term, he wouldn't be released until Aug. 5, 2037.

Savage's sentence stems from four separate cases. He was convicted of molesting a 9-year-old Uniontown girl, exposing himself to a 10-year-old girl in neighboring North Union Township, damaging a prisoner waiting room at a district judge's office and sending a threatening letter to the state police trooper who charged him.

Online court records don't list an attorney for Savage on the federal charges. The county public defender who represented him on the child molestation and other charges did not immediately return a call for comment Monday.

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