Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2008 | 12:11 p.m.
A man who once lived in Pioche, Nev., who was arrested Sunday in Denver during the Democratic National Convention with guns and two-way radios in a car has been charged with one count of possessing methamphetamine, U.S. Attorney Troy Eid of Denver said.
Tharin Robert Gartrell, 28, faces from two years to 20 years in federal prison, depending on the amount of methamphetamine possessed.
Federal authorities learned that three men were alleged threats to Sen. Barack Obama, who is expected to accept the Democratic Party's nomination for president Thursday.
In addition to Gartrell, 32-year-old Nathan Dwaine Johnson is charged with one count of possessing a firearm by a prohibited person and one count of possession of methamphetamine. The third person charged, 33-year-old Shawn Robert Adolf, is charged with one count of possessing a firearm by a prohibited person, one count of possessing body armor by a violent felon and one count of possessing methamphetamine.
Colorado police discovered the alleged plot after an Aurora, Colo., police officer stopped Gartrell about 1:30 a.m. Sunday for driving erratically in a blue Dodge pickup truck.
The officer discovered that Gartrell's license was suspended and searched his truck, finding a loaded Ruger rifle with a hunting scope, an unloaded Remington rifle with a scope, five boxes of ammunition, a bullet-proof vest, two-way radios and wigs. The truck had been rented from Enterprise by Johnson.
Gartrell and his family lived in Pioche, a mining town in Lincoln County, about 180 miles northeast of Las Vegas. But the family moved more than a decade ago, a long-time resident said.
Gartrell had several minor run-ins with law enforcement in Denver, including a traffic violation and three counts of possessing drugs of less than an ounce, according to court records.
After police interviewed Gartrell, they tracked down Johnson and Adolf. Johnson was arrested at the Denver Tech Center Hyatt Hotel and Adolf at the Cherry Creek Hotel in Glendale, Colo.
As police questioned the men about the weapons, the plot unfolded.
Johnson told investigators that Adolf had threatened to kill Obama and he believed Gartrell came to Denver to help. Gartrell admitted to police that in talking about Obama, there was a reference to a "shooting on a grassy knoll."
Inconsistencies with the men's stories led investigators to downgrade the threat to Obama.
"It is a very serious crime to threaten a presidential candidate," Eid said. "In this case, however, there is insufficient evidence at this time to indicate a true threat, plot or conspiracy against Senator Obama."