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BILLINGS - A federal judge has acquitted a Miles City man accused of threatening an IRS employee in an e-mail.

After a three-day bench trial, the judge in Billings ruled that 61-year-old Robert Shipley was not guilty of threatening communication.

Shipley had been jailed since his arrest more than 10 months ago.

Shipley acknowledged he wrote and sent an e-mail last June to Quantum Financial Solutions, a Colorado tax firm he hired to resolve an inheritance tax dispute. Shipley complained about Quantum's handling of his case and threatened to get a baseball bat or club and beat in the head of the IRS officer assigned to the matter.

Shipley told Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull that he never intended to communicate a threat or to harm the officer.

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