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Mentally ill man sentenced for threat to Bush

Mentally ill man sentenced for threat to Bush

TAMPA — A mentally ill homeless man received a 57-month federal prison sentence Wednesday for threatening President Bush.

Timothy Wade Pinkston, 48, also had threatened President Bill Clinton and the governor of Georgia while serving a prior federal sentence.

U.S. District Judge Susan C. Bucklew sentenced Pinkston three months short of the statutory maximum for the crime.

"Mr. Pinkston, there's no good answer here," Bucklew said. "I don't think I would be doing you any favor in giving you a shorter sentence."

Pinkston said he's struggled for years with being bipolar and HIV-positive, two illnesses he said have caused him to often try to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.

"When I get high and I get drunk, I say stupid things that I don't even realize until down the line," he said.

When Bucklew asked prosecutors and defense attorneys for an alternative to incarceration, neither offered a suggestion.

A different fate befell a homeless woman this year, who Bucklew sentenced to a local mental health facility instead of prison.

In that case, Deloris Jean Baines pleaded guilty to mailing a letter to the White House threatening Bush. She accused the president of not caring for poor people and said she had purchased a .38 caliber revolver for him.

Baines' attorney made her competency an issue in court, but that wasn't raised in Pinkston's case.

Assistant federal Public Defender Dionja Dyer persuaded Bucklew to send Baines for treatment and suggested a local program.

Dyer also represented Pinkston.

He made the threats to Bush after seeking treatment at St. Joseph's Hospital psychiatric unit in August. Investigators said he made the threatening statements to a hospital employee and again to a Secret Service agent.

Dyer said in court that there was never any evidence that Pinkston intended to carry out his threats.
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