Wisconsin man who threatened the governor gets a year in prison after taking a plea deal

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A woodworker from Wisconsin who threatened the governor and several other officials was sentenced to a year in prison Thursday after taking a plea deal.

Michael Yaker, 53, will likely serve only a few months because he’s been in jail for most of the past year, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. He pleaded guilty to a federal charge in March for threatening a former Dane County official in May 2022.

Yaker will be released on supervision and required to get mental health treatment.

Although he only pleaded guilty to threatening the county official, Yaker has admitted to making the other threats — including Democratic Gov. Tony Evers — as part of his deal with prosecutors.

Over eight months he made dozens of threats via email and Facebook, among other methods, detailing violent acts against the recipients. Some contained racial slurs.

In a call to the Dane County Board of Supervisors, Yaker said “I’m holding an axe in my hand. I’ve been sharpening it the whole time.”

Yaker’s mental health struggles and threatening behavior began after the county’s decision not to award him a contract to build a park shelter more than a decade ago, according to court documents.

He had pleaded guilty in 2016 to making violent threats, including a bomb scare, and was sentenced to probation. Yaker said Thursday that his feelings of “rage” and “manic madness” returned as he was coming off probation in 2019, and he began threatening government officials again.

“I don’t want to hurt anybody,” Yaker said in court. “I don’t want these people to fear me.”