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Utah man accused of marathon bomb threat gets probation

Published January 3, 2014 8:32 pm

Courts • George Zinn was sentenced to probation on Friday after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A 59-year-old man accused of making threats to plant bombs at the finish line of the Salt lake City Marathon less than a week after the Boston Marathon bombing was sentenced to probation Friday.

George Hodgson Zinn was originally charged in 3rd District Court with one count of making terrorist threats, a second-degree felony, after he sent an email on April 19 to SLC Marathon Marketing group "requesting to help place bombs" at the marathon's finish line.

Zinn accepted a plea deal in November, pleading guilty to an amended class A misdemeanor charge. On Friday, 3rd District Judge James Blanch opted to suspend a year of jail time and sentenced Zinn to 24 months probation. Blanch also ordered the man to undergo a mental health evaluation and receive treatment.

Zinn's attorney, Lisa Remal, told the judge Friday that her client's mental health issues often causes him to make "impulsive" and "dumb" choices. He hopes that steady mental health treatment will help him learn how to correct those mistakes, she said.

"He understands he may very well have frightened people," she said. "Though that was not his intention."

Zinn has a criminal record dating back to 1989 and includes dozens of convictions for petty crimes such as criminal trespass, theft of services, interfering with a police officer and disturbing the peace. However, this was the first time he had been charged with a felony, according to his attorney, which was a wake-up call to the man.

Blanch also ordered that Zinn have no further contact with marathon organizers, after Zinn contacted organizers once more after the initial threat. Zinn told the judge Friday that he contacted them to apologize and see what they wanted to do about the case, not to make another threat.

"When the nation is so vulnerable and so edgy, it was entirely out of line to forward that comment to you," Zinn wrote in the email to organizers, referring to the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings. "I want you to be assured that I have no terrorist or criminal tendencies toward your program or toward the citizens of Salt Lake City in any way."

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller