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‘Live in fear.’ Woman sentenced to federal prison for threats to Kentucky prosecutor

A woman who made threats against a prosecutor in Kentucky has been sentenced to three years and three months in prison.

Tara K. Thomas, 32, of Tompkinsville, pleaded guilty to stalking and sending harassing communications.

The victim in the case was Kori Bumgarner, the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Warren County.

Bumgarner was an assistant prosecutor in September 2021 when she was called to handle a case involving Thomas, who was charged with public intoxication, assault on a police officer and disorderly conduct, among other charges.

Thomas had been to a tattoo parlor in Bowling Green. The tattoo artist injured her and offered her cocaine to avoid pressing charges, but she tried to leave without paying and was arrested for being under the influence of alcohol, her attorney, Travis B. Lock, said in a memorandum in the later federal case. .

Police said in a citation that Thomas kicked one officer and spit on another.

Bumgarner offered Thomas a preliminary investigation to resolve the charges, but the police report shows that Thomas was not happy with that.

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Thomas posted messages on Facebook referencing Bumgarner, including “You’re dead, b—h;” threatened her children; and sent a message to Bumgarner’s stepfather saying, “Your daughter is dead,” the prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Raymond D. McGee, said in a court document.

A woman admitted to sending threatening letters to a prosecutor in Kentucky.  This is an extract from a letter included in the court file.

A woman admitted to sending threatening letters to a prosecutor in Kentucky. This is an extract from a letter included in the court file.

Bumgarner testified that the threats made her fear for her life and the lives of her family.

A jury in state court convicted Thomas in connection with the threats and a judge sentenced her to four years in state custody.

Thomas renewed her threats against Bumgarner in January 2023 after she became Commonwealth’s Attorney, through letters she sent from the Warren County Jail.

One letter had the word “murder” spelled backwards and said Thomas hoped Bumgarner’s children would be raped and put in a meat grinder.

Another said Thomas hoped Bumgarner would “live in fear for the rest of her life,” according to McGee’s memo.

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Thomas’ attorney, Lock, said in a sentencing memo that Thomas, who served four years as a U.S. Marine, had traumatic experiences with the legal system before she was charged in the tattoo parlor incident.

Thomas was sexually abused by a neighbor at age 12, and the man and his attorney tried to portray her as a liar, Lock said.

While in high school in Bowling Green, a teacher raped Thomas, but prosecutors had him plead guilty to a lesser charge, Lock said.

After returning home from military service, Thomas began experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), brought on by her previous bad experiences in the legal system, Locke said.

That explained her anger over the handling of charges over the tattoo parlor incident, Lock said.

“Tara’s post-traumatic stress and her terrible past experiences with the justice system all reached a boiling point,” Lock wrote.

Bumgarner told the Herald-Leader she is grateful to federal prosecutors, the FBI and Bowling Green police for their work on the case and their commitment to the community.

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“It is unfortunately becoming more and more common for people who are just doing their job in the justice system to receive threats against them and their families,” Bumgarner said. “That behavior cannot become commonplace for our system to work.”

Chief U.S. District Judge Greg N. Stivers sentenced Thomas on May 21. She is currently being held at the Grayson County Detention Center.

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