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Stevens County man accused of extorting militia members appears in court

COLVILLE, Wash. - James Russell Bolton, Jr. made his first appearance in Stevens County Superior Court, after being arrested by US Marshals in West Virginia.

Bolton was at the center of several extortion incidents in May, alleging that he had threatened and demanded money from various people in Stevens County. According to court documents, investigators responded to two cases where coercive letters were left at people's properties.

Members of the Stevens County Assembly, a militia formed by Bolton himself, reportedly received similar letters. These included threats made toward individual's family members or property, and suggested a connection to a Mexican drug cartel. Bolton says that he also received letters like this, though investigators were skeptical after examining his background in military and counter-intelligence.

Prosecutors say he fled to West Virginia after he learned of their investigation, though Bolton claims he left for his own safety.

His bond was set at $30,000.

A prosecutor told the judge he has been in contact with other agencies and belives it it possible charges could be filed against Bolton in Spokane County and in federal court. The Spokane charges would be in connection to allegations of and assault that was reported here. Bolton's attorney said he doubts that will happen and that if Bolton was actually suspected of assault, he would be charged.

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