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What you need to know for 08/21/2017

Man accused of threats to FBI agent

Man accused of threats to FBI agent

Very few people are unlucky enough to drunk-dial an FBI agent.

Very few people are unlucky enough to drunk-dial an FBI agent.

Peter Joseph Persico, 52, was that unlucky when his phone tirade early this spring turned out to be directed at FBI Special Agent Matthew Gastony.

Currently, Persico is incarcerated awaiting trial in U.S. District Court for alleged threats against the agent, as well as on previous charges of cyberstalking and mailing threatening communications to a Montgomery County woman and her employer.

According to court paperwork, Persico called Gastony around 3:20 p.m. May 9 from a bar in the state of Florida but hung up before the call could be answered. Gastony then called the number back repeatedly, at which point a man identifying himself as Persico and an unidentified woman launched into a string of profane taunts.

“Tell your mom I said hi,” the man reportedly said. “Tell your sister I said hi, too.”

Persico’s lawyer, Assistant Federal Public Defender Paul Evangelista, attempted to get the latest charges dropped Tuesday, claiming the defendant was intoxicated and did not mean any actual harm to the agent or his family.

“The comments of the recipient are at all times consistent with the comments of an intoxicated person receiving repeated calls from an unknown number,” he wrote in court paperwork. “The recipient does not speak of any specifics concerning personal information of the caller, nor are the names, addresses or specific knowledge of the caller’s family demonstrated by the recipient.”

He also pointed out that since the FBI number was blocked, his client likely did not know to whom he was talking. Even so, Senior U.S. District Court Judge Thomas McAvoy denied the motion, leaving Persico to face all three indictments.

Persico was first indicted May 2 for allegedly sending a series of threatening letters and emails to a Montgomery County woman between November 2010 and April 2011.

The first count alleges he used the Internet to cause “substantial emotional distress to [the woman] and placed [her] in reasonable fear of death and serious bodily injury to herself and members of her immediate family.”

The second count originates from a number of letters sent over the same period of time to the woman’s employer, also threatening to hurt her.

Gastony received his call just a week after Persico was indicted but before he was arrested.

His trial is currently set for Nov. 26 in U.S. District Court in Binghamton, though it may be postponed for 75 days while some of his letters are analyzed by handwriting experts.

Evangelista could not be reached for comment last week.

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