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Threatening letter sent to former mayor

March 22, 2005|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Hagerstown City Police are investigating a threatening note forwarded to the department by former Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II, who said the note was delivered to his home Saturday, Hagerstown Police Detective Sgt. Paul Kifer said Monday.

Bruchey lost his bid for the Republican nomination for mayor in the March 8 primary election to Richard F. Trump.

Bruchey announced Thursday he would wage a write-in campaign for mayor. He officially filed as a write-in candidate Friday.

Kifer said Monday evening that the Washington County State's Attorney's Office has determined there is no specific crime contained in the letter's message, but investigators still want to know the note's author.

"It goes back to the election process. It's a fine line of freedom of speech kind of thing to threats and coercion," Kifer said. "We want to make sure that this doesn't go anywhere further than just a nasty letter."

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Kifer asked that anyone who knows who may have sent the note to call city police investigators.

Both Trump and Democratic nominee Mayor William M. Breichner, reached by phone Monday, denounced the note.

Bruchey, reached by phone Monday, said he was at work when his wife received and opened the letter Saturday. A copy of the letter was provided Monday to The Herald-Mail by Bruchey's friend, Ted Bodnar, with Bruchey's permission.

The 92-word, profanity-laced note was written in all capital letters. It starts: "Hello - apparently you missed the election results you lost ... ."

The note also said "... what your (sic) going to do is put your tail between your legs and take another Prozac and call the doctor in the morning ... ."

Other portions state "... if you like walking under your own power get out ..." and "... swallow your pride or swallow your teeth ... ."

And in an apparent reference to Bodnar - who assisted Bruchey in his 2001 campaign - the letter said, "tell that fat ... on Franklin Street to sleep with one eye open."

'Definitely threatening'


Bruchey and Bodnar said the letter is a threat to them, but Bruchey laughed at the reference to Prozac, an antidepressant.

"It's definitely threatening language. ... Anybody who would read the language, they would consider it a threat," Bruchey said.

Bruchey said he's "slightly concerned ... Not for myself, but for my family and my friends."

Bruchey said the note is not deterring him from his plans for the write-in campaign.

"I believe what will be done with the write-in (campaign) is the democratic process at its purest, and that's the way we're headed," Bruchey said.

Bruchey said he has "no clue" what the Prozac reference was supposed to mean.

"I've never taken a Prozac in my life. ... I guess they just want me to chill out," Bruchey said.

Bodnar said, "Am I worried? No. But is it a threat? Damn right it's a threat."

Bodnar was Bruchey's treasurer in his 2001 campaign, but he is not actively working for Bruchey now, Bodnar said. However, his name appeared on Bruchey's Web site last week.

Bodnar's name was in the address line of a campaign flier sent to city residents that slammed Bruchey. Bruchey placed the flier on his Web site as part of his own slam against Trump - which included comments about Trump's stuttering until Wednesday evening when the stuttering comments were removed.

Trump last week dismissed Bruchey's attack with a joke, and on Thursday Bruchey announced his write-in candidacy.

On Monday, neither Bruchey nor Trump brought up last week's clash.

Trump, reached Monday, said he was upset when told the content of the letter by a reporter.

"I'm appalled by it. ... I'm sorry. ... It's just very upsetting to me," Trump said. "This just isn't what we want our community to be about."

Breichner said, "Obviously, it is the product of, really, a sick person. ... I hope whoever did it, it comes to light. Technically, it's a threat on someone's life and that's unfortunate. That's not what we're supposed to be all about."

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