Ex-candidate sentenced to year in prison for death threats

A former Delaware political candidate who unsuccessfully sought the Republican nominations for governor and U.S. Senate has been sentenced to a year in prison after pleading guilty to federal charges of mailing threats to a lawyer who represented his wife in a divorce case.

Michael Protack was sentenced Tuesday after pleading guilty in August to two counts of mailing a threatening communication. Prosecutors sought a sentence of two years in prison. Protack’s public defender asked that he be sentenced to the two months he already had served after his arrest in June.

Protack, 64, faced a maximum sentence of five years on each count.

Protack’s attorney described his actions as “regrettable” in a presentencing memorandum and said he is focused on moving forward in his life and not repeating the mistakes of his past.

Prosecutors countered that the threats Protrack made were targeted and deliberate, and the culmination of a persistent, yearslong harassment campaign.

Authorities said Protack, who now lives in Seal Beach, California, mailed two death threats to Delaware lawyer Patrick Boyer early last year. An unsigned January letter was addressed to “Boyer. Little Boy,” with a return address of the “Viper Association” at a Wilmington post office box.

“The VIPERS are coming for you. We all have military experience and have no fear of the outcome,” the letter states. “You are a coward who will regret his actions. Count on being dead by June 2021. You won’t know when, where or how but your end has been written. Take the time and put your affairs in order because they will not find your body for weeks.”

Authorities said Protack followed up a few weeks later with a letter containing a graphic image of a mutilated body.

Protack unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for governor in 2004 and 2008 and narrowly lost the GOP primary for U.S. Senate in 2006. Authorities said Boyer began representing Mary Ann Protack in divorce proceedings in 2018 and helped her obtain “protection from abuse,” or PFA, orders against Protack.

The divorce proceedings appear to have started about the same time that Protack, a former airline pilot who served in the Marine Corps, was notified that Delta Air Lines intended to fire him.

In a federal lawsuit filed in January 2018, Protack claimed that Delta had harassed and bullied him for years over his union activity and repeatedly questioned his physical and mental fitness after he was injured in a hit-and-run incident in 2012. The lawsuit also claims Delta unfairly portrayed Protack as “obstructionist” for refusing to submit to a psychiatric examination.

The case was dismissed in 2020 after being transferred from California to Georgia. Protack filed a similar lawsuit, without an attorney, last year. That case was dismissed in June because of Protack’s failure to properly serve the defendants.

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