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Man Arrested in Threats to Two Senators : Roberti and McCorquodale Warned on Gun-Control Measure

From United Press International

A Yuba County man was arrested for threatening two state senators who supported legislation that would ban semiautomatic assault weapons, state police said Saturday.

Police said they found four semiautomatic weapons, more than 10,000 rounds of ammunition and about 20 pounds of marijuana when they searched the man’s cabin in Camptonville, a foothill town about 90 miles north of Sacramento.

Roger Steiner, 51, allegedly made “numerous” threatening phone calls to Senate President Pro Tem David A. Roberti, (D-Los Angeles), and Sen. Dan McCorquodale, (D-San Jose), at their Capitol offices during the last several weeks, State Police Sgt. Peter Ostergar said.

He said the phone calls to Roberti and McCorquodale contained “veiled threats” suggesting that their lives would be in jeopardy if they supported a ban on military-style weapons. Most of the calls were made to Roberti.

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Ostergar said a legislative staffer broke the case earlier this week when he asked the caller his name and the caller identified himself.

Roberti is the author of a bill that would virtually ban military-style semiautomatic weapons, and McCorquodale voted for it. The bill has passed the Senate and a similar bill has passed the Assembly. Roberti has said he plans to negotiate changes to his bill with Assembly leaders and Gov. George Deukmejian, who has said he prefers the less restrictive Assembly version.

A spokesman for Roberti said he would not comment on the threats for security reasons.

Ostergar said Steiner is being examined by a psychiatrist at a Yuba City mental health facility and will be held at least until Wednesday. He was booked at the Yuba County Jail and held on $5,000 bail after his arrest Friday afternoon outside a small Camptonville grocery store.

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Ostergar said Steiner was carrying more than $6,000 in cash and had a .22-caliber semiautomatic pistol concealed in his jacket pocket. He refused to talk to police. He was arrested for threatening a public official and carrying a concealed weapon and later also booked for possessing marijuana for sale and being armed while committing a felony.

Other state lawmakers also have received threatening phone calls from people warning them not to vote for the gun bill, but Ostergar said police believe those calls were not made by Steiner. His arrest is the first stemming from the threatening calls and letters.


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