Federal investigators: Canton man in custody wanted gun, revenge on arresting officers

Ed Balint
The Repository

A Canton man awaiting sentencing on a federal firearm charge has threatened to kill police officers when he gets out of prison, according to prosecutors.

Matthew P. Slatzer, 36, drew Gov. Mike DeWine's ire earlier in the pandemic when he reportedly displayed an anti-Semitic sign at a protest against restrictions and orders related to COVID-19.

Slatzer's sentencing on a firearm-related charge had been set for Thursday but it's being delayed until later this month because the defense wants an opportunity to review phone calls the defendant made in prison in which he allegedly said he wanted to smuggle a gun into prison and then kill police after he's released.

The recorded phone calls are cited in a sentencing document filed last week by the office of Justin Herdman, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

Slatzer was indicted in June on the gun-related charge, which stems from when police were called to a Canton bar in February where he was intoxicated and had a .38-caliber revolver, according to investigators.

The defendant pleaded guilty in September in U.S. District Court to a count of possession of a firearm by a person with a domestic violence conviction.

Slatzer threatened to kill the arresting officers, stating “he would kill each pig one by one,” after having made racist and homophobic statements, federal court records said.

And his threatening behavior has continued behind bars, according to federal prosecutors.

"While incarcerated at Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, Slatzer made several alarming phone calls stating that he wanted to 'figure out how to smuggle a gun in here' and that, when he gets out, if he has contact with officers again, he will 'have to kill ‘em.'"  

Judge Donald C. Nugent has rescheduled sentencing for Dec. 29. Federal prosecutors didn't object to Monday's defense request for continuation. 

A message seeking comment was sent Wednesday to Slatzer's attorney, Anthony Vegh.

When told of Slatzer's alleged comments, Canton Police Chief Jack Angelo said he hopes the judge takes them into consideration when deciding on a prison term.

"I think it should be taken seriously when people are going to make threats like that," Angelo said. "The things he's done show he's a dangerous person and our officers will be aware of that, and hopefully, he does get sentenced to whatever maximum the federal court can give him."

The firearm-related case began in Stark County Common Pleas Court before it was dismissed following the federal indictment.

On Feb. 2, Canton police had responded to a bar on Harrison Avenue SW for an intoxicated man with a gun.

Slatzer gave the firearm to a bar manager who locked the gun in an office.

When police arrived, he was arrested for possession of a firearm in a liquor permit establishment, according to the U.S. attorney's office. Slatzer also had a holster, knife, pepper spray and ammunition, court records said.

Slatzer was barred from having gun due to a 2010 misdemeanor domestic violence conviction.

'Threats and actions'

Federal law permits the court to consider the history and characteristics of Slatzer, the prosecution's sentencing document says.

The U.S. attorney's office said that "Slatzer’s aunt believes (he) belongs to the Klu Klux Klan (and) dislikes Jewish and Black people."

"It is not Slatzer's beliefs or association which should impact his sentencing," the sentencing memorandum said. "Rather, it is Slatzer's threats and actions..."

Sword and hatchet

Federal prosecutors also accuse the defendant of walking into a Dollar General store in May in Stow with a sword and hatchet and stating "he was an Aryan brother and that he was going to Kent State University to find some Jews."

Slatzer asked a store employee for directions to Kent State, court records said.

"Slatzer made no specific threats of harm beyond the possession of the hatchet and sword," the U.S. attorney's office wrote.

The defendant faces up to 10 years in prison, although the "imprisonment range is 21 to 27 months" under federal sentencing guidelines, court records said.

"Slatzer's criminal actions regularly include alcohol, violence, firearms and hatred," the sentencing document concluded. "Slatzer's continued threats, even while locked up or out on bond, toward police officers and the Jewish community further exhibit his dangerousness.

"The United States asks this Court not to consider Slatzer’s political views or beliefs but rather consider the danger he poses to the community due to these views and beliefs."

Reach Ed at 330-580-8315 or ebalint@gannett.com

On Twitter @ebalintREP