Man accused of harassing black official denies gun violation

BENNINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A self-described white nationalist and “online troll” accused of harassing a black legislator pleaded not guilty on Monday to violating a condition of his release on gun-related charges.

Max Misch, of Bennington, is accused of purchasing a firearm after a condition was imposed that he not buy or possess any guns. His ex-wife, Lisa Shapiro, told police about the purchase earlier this month, according to a police affidavit.

Misch, appearing in court Monday wearing an obscene anti-gun control shirt, was released without bail despite a request by the Vermont attorney general’s office, which is prosecuting both cases, the Bennington Banner reported .

Judge William D. Cohen ordered Misch to adhere to his existing conditions of release and not to “enter any place (where) the primary business is selling firearms or dangerous/deadly weapons,” the newspaper reported.

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Misch pleaded not guilty in February to possessing illegal, large capacity gun magazines, which became illegal in Vermont last year.

His lawyer appealed, arguing that the state provision outlawing possession of large-capacity ammunition devices is unconstitutional. Late last month, a judge rejected the motion to dismiss the charges, ruling that the provision did not violate sections of the state constitution.

Lawyers for the attorney general’s office and defense have filed a joint motion asking the judge to have the Vermont Supreme Court determine if the provision is constitutional, the newspaper reported Sunday.

A phone message was left with Misch’s lawyer.

Last year, former state Rep. Kia Morris resigned after receiving what she said were online and other racial threats. Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan said in January that an investigation found that she was the victim of racial harassment but no charges would be filed because of free speech protections and insufficient evidence.

Misch has acknowledged trolling Morris online and at public events during the time she filed complaints of racially motivated harassment and threats. But the attorney general’s office found no grounds for criminal charges, the newspaper reported.

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