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Man charged in plot to assassinate Utah governor

Monday, February 13, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY -- A Utah man who police say threatened to assassinate Gov. Gary Herbert is now facing felony charges.

Brian Biff Baker was charged Friday in Salt Lake City's 3rd District Court with felony counts of drug and weapons possession, along with a misdemeanor count of threatening elected officials.

Court records show no hearings are set in the case. The 52-year-old Baker is being held in the Salt Lake County Jail. Bail is set at $25,007. It was not immediately clear whether Baker had an attorney.

Court papers say Baker was conducting surveillance on the Governor's Mansion in Salt Lake City.

The records also say that on Feb. 2, Baker had sent text messages to a friend stating that he was lying in the bushes and intended to kill the governor. The recipient of the texts reported the messages to police and Baker was arrested the same day, court papers say.

In his messages, Baker said he had been casing the place and that authorities would utter an expletive "when the explosions start ... should be funny as hell, it's a dangerous mission," a police affidavit filed in support of the charges states.

The texts also included a threat to kill police officers who had driven past the mansion more than once during Baker's period of surveillance the affidavit states.

Police also say Herbert was at home during the time Baker was conducting surveillance and was removed from the premises for safety reasons.

Investigators enlisted the help of the message recipient to get Baker to come to a nearby gas station, where he was arrested. Police found containers of ammunition, a large knife, explosives, illegal fireworks and small plastic bags of methamphetamine in Baker's truck, court papers say.

Security camera video from the area around the mansion also showed Baker conducting his surveillance, the papers state.

Court records show Baker has a criminal history dating back to 1997 that includes felony convictions for robbery, forgery and drug possession.

On Jan. 31, Salt Lake County prosecutors also filed a retail theft charge against Baker. A hearing in that case is set for Monday.


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