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Woman pleads not guilty to threatening police, prosecutors and others

Woman pleads not guilty to threatening police, prosecutors and others

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A Butte woman pleaded not guilty Wednesday to 10 criminal charges for allegedly posting death threats toward police officers, probation officers, prosecutors and others involved in her child custody cases.

Julie Maria Riojas, 40, also pleaded not guilty to felony partner-family member assault in a separate case before District Court Judge Robert Whelan. She remained jailed with bail set at $250,000.

According to prosecutors, the state had placed Riojas’ children in foster care and she began posting comments about the situation on Facebook on Dec. 24. She claimed she knew people who would kill the responsible parties and their families.

Riojas then began to share profiles and photos of police officers, other public officials and state child welfare workers who had been involved in her cases with hashtags such as #dead and variations of it. She included “children” and “family” in some of the threats, prosecutors say.

People sent police screenshots of the threats and one of the foster parents requested extra patrols of her home by officers. Riojas initially denied knowing anything about the posts and said her account had been hacked.

But she could not explain how a hacker would know all the people involved in her cases and “indicated she had no intent to follow through with any of the threats,” according to charging documents.

Riojas is charged with 10 counts of privacy in communications, two of them misdemeanors for first and second offenses and eight of them felonies. The felonies each carry maximum penalties of five years in prison and fines up to $10,000.

In the other case, several officers went to take Riojas into custody for the alleged threats on Dec. 28 and a male relative at the residence said she had grabbed him by the arm and threatened to hit him with a phone. She denied the accusations.

A conviction on that charge is punishable by up to five years and fines up to $50,000.

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