A man who made threats against the city and law enforcement during a dispute over his property tax bill last year pleaded to lesser charges on the day he was to go to trial.
Michael Allen Larue, 63, Hays, was arrested Dec. 20, a day after he told clerks in the Ellis County Treasurer’s Office that he would “blow up the City of Hays building and test out the bulletproof vests of law enforcement officers with his armor piercing rounds,” according to the original complaint filed in Ellis County District Court.
He was charged then with one felony count of criminal threat for making the threat Dec. 19 during an argument with two employees of the Ellis County Treasurer’s office and Ellis County Treasurer Lisa Schlegel, and one felony count of interference with a law enforcement officer for resisting arrest. After Hays Police Department investigators conducted a traffic stop the next day, he defied their attempts to take him into custody for over 30 minutes, according to the complaint.
A two-day jury trial was scheduled to begin Thursday on those charges, but Larue agreed to a plea bargain Wednesday afternoon.
Larue entered an Alford plea to two misdemeanor charges of battery of a law enforcement officer and three misdemeanor charges of assault. The Alford plea acknowledges the state has enough evidence to convict on the felony charges but does not admit guilt.
If Larue had been convicted at trial on the original charges, he could have been sentenced to up to 12 months probation with an underlying prison sentence of seven months for the criminal threat charge and six months for the interference charge.
His sentence under the plea agreement will be longer, but he avoids a felony conviction and prison. The recommended sentence is 18 months probation with an underlying sentence of six months for each battery charge and 30 days for each assault charge in Ellis County Jail.
In addition, the agreement recommends an intake screening assessment through High Plains Mental Health Center, which will take place Friday, with any recommended treatment part of the probation conditions.
Larue will also forfeit all guns and ammunition that were seized from his residence following his arrest. Ellis County Attorney Tom Drees said the amount of weapons seized was not unusual, and no armor-piercing rounds were found.
Sentencing is set for 3 p.m. Jan. 4.
He has a prior conviction by jury from August 2010 for DUI, battery of a law enforcement officer and obstruction.