January 19 1995
When his friend remarked about how many Secret Service agents were keeping watch over the president in Rio Linda on Tuesday afternoon John Faul had an unfortunate comeback.
“I said sarcastically ‘Well don’t break out your automatic weapons yet’ ” Faul recalled Wednesday.
Before he knew it the 19-year-old American River College student was being whisked away by Secret Service agents, questioned, and thrown in jail on charges of threatening the president.
Faul and Ernest Morgan, vice president of the Rio Linda Chamber of Commerce, learned the hard way Tuesday that the Secret Service – like airport security – doesn’t fool around when it comes to talk of guns.
Faul of Rio Linda and Morgan, 41, of Elverta were arrested by Sacramento County deputies on misdemeanor charges of obstructing or resisting an executive officer in the performance of his duties.
That means the men’s words could have caused President Clinton “to change the manner in which he carried out his duty” said sheriffs spokesman John McGinness.
McGinness said the statements of the two men who later were released were “veiled threats at best”.
‘These people were arrested for doing something that wouldn’t even be close to a crime if’ their words were directed at an average citizen he said.
Exactly what Morgan said remained unclear Wednesday but he reportedly made a reference to a gun while being checked with a hand-held metal detector McGinness said.
Morgan, reached Wednesday at his business Morgan Realty and Tax Service in Rio Linda, declined to comment on advice of his attorney, But a friend, Chamber of Commerce President Bob Bastian, said “I’m sure he was joking Whatever he said he said it at the wrong time and place”.
While he described his vice president as “a really nice fellow” “a good businessman” and “really pro-American” Bastian couldn’t help but worry that the incident could damage Rio Linda’s reputation which has been shaped at least nationally by talk show host Rush Limbaugh.
“An incident like this is likely to be blown out of proportion. It’s likely to be damaging to the community and the chamber” he said Bastian said he hopes the incident won’t overshadow the importance of a presidential visit to Rio Linda which he said is not the “hick town” that Limbaugh describes where all the residents keep their cars on blocks in their yards.
Despite repeated efforts to contact Limbaugh chamber members still haven’t figured out what he has against their town Bastian said.
Faul too thinks his incident has been blown out of proportion but he admitted that he deserved it “I totally agree they should have grabbed me out of the crowd. Of course, they had reason to believe the president was in danger” Faul said.
“It really was a big mistake “I found the whole situation ironic” he added – “I’m a Democrat. I support Clinton. I think he’s doing good things. I think people are being too hard on him.”
In addition, Faul said he is “against guns” and doesn’t own one“
Neither he nor Morgan have weapon permits from the county.
McGinness said Municipal Court appearances for both men are scheduled for Feb 6.
The misdemeanor charge carries a fine up to $10000 or up to a year in jail or prison..
Faul said he thinks a fine or community service would be fair punishment
“I’m not going to make any excuses,” said the aspiring graphic artist “I just hope they’re not excessively mean to me I hope they don’t do anything to ruin me”.
by Janine DeFao
Bee Staff Writer