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Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Case of House Speaker John Boehner's Ex-Bartender

     Michael P. Hoyt, known as "Bartender Mike" at the Wetherington Golf and Country Club in West Chester, Ohio, lived in Deer Park, a suburban community in Butler County not far from Cincinnati. For the past five years the 44-year-old bartender had served wine to Ohio Republican and Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, John Boehner. The congressman is a member of the club.

     Suffering from mental illness for which he had been prescribed anti-psychotic medication that he did not always take, Mr. Hoyt had trouble at work. On October 22, 2014 his boss at the country club fired him.

     In his psychotic state, Mr. Hoyt blamed John Boehner for many things, including his dismissal from the country club. In an October 28, 2014 email to the speaker's wife Debbie, Hoyt wrote: "If I had any intention of hurting Mr. Boehner, I could have poisoned his wine at Wertherington many, many times."

     The next day, Hoyt called the Deer Park Police Department and asked to speak with an officer. Questioned at his home, the former bartender said he had been fired because John Boehner had complained about his job performance. He said voices in his head had informed him that Mr. Boehner was an evil man who was responsible for the Ebola outbreak. Claiming to be Jesus Christ (this gave him a lot in common with many politicians), Hoyt said his supervisor had fired him before he had the opportunity to poison Mr. Boehner's wine. He also informed the officers that he owned a loaded .380 Beretta pistol, a weapon he could have used to kill the Speaker.

     Police officers took Mr. Hoyt into custody on suspicion of making death threats against the Ohio Congressman. A judge ordered a 45-day mental evaluation of Mr. Hoyt at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

     Officers searching Mr. Hoyt's home on October 31, 2014 found boxes of ammunition but no guns. (Hoyt's mother, aware of her son's deteriorating mental health, had taken his SKS assault rifle to her home in Hebron, Kentucky.) In the dwelling, officers found a notebook containing Hoyt's psychotic ramblings on John Boehner.

     As assistant United States Attorney in Cincinnati, on November 6, 2014, presented Mr. Hoyt's case to a federal grand jury that promptly indicted him for making terroristic threats against a public official. If convicted as charged he faced up to thirty years in prison.

     It wasn't until January 14, 2015 that a federal spokesperson announced Hoyt's indictment. The spokesperson did not explain why the government had waited so long to make this information public.

     

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