Feds: Venezuelan man threatened to kill Newtown residents in phone calls after school shooting [New Haven Register, Conn. :: ]
(New Haven Register (CT) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) June 23--NEW HAVEN -- A 30-year-old Venezuelan man accused of making threatening phone calls to Newtown residents days after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School was arrested Saturday, federal prosecutors said Monday.
Wilfrido A. Cardenas Hoffman, 30, was arrested at Miami International Airport and charged with transmitting threats in interstate or foreign commerce, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut's office said in a press release.
The indictment alleges Cardenas Hoffman made numerous calls to Newtown residents on Dec. 16, 2012, two days after 20 students and six educators were fatally shot at the elementary school.
The charges were filed against Cardenas Hoffman in May 2013. He was arrested on Saturday as he made his way through Miami International Airport en route to Mexico from Venezuela. A redacted copy of the criminal complaint was unsealed Monday.
The FBI said in the indictment that it received two messages left on the phones of Newtown residents.
In one of the messages, he said, "This is Adam Lanza. I'm gonna [expletive] kill you. You're dead. You're dead. You hear me? You're dead," the indictment states.
In another message, he allegedly said, "This is Adam Lanza. I'm gonna kill you. You're dead. With my machine gun. You're dead [expletive]."
FBI agents discovered the number used to make the calls, with a New York area code, and found it was registered to iCall Inc., a voice over IP (VoIP) service that allows subscribers to make telephone calls over the Internet using a computer or mobile device, according to the indictment.
Call details show that 96 calls were made to the Newtown area, based on the 203-426-xxxx exchange from the account that was tied to the recorded messages, according to the indictment.
Four of the recipients of the calls were interviewed by federal authorities, and they all said they had received a threatening call at about the date and time indicated by the iCall records, investigators said.
FBI agents were then able to trace the IP address connected to the account and determined the calls were either made from or routed through Venezuela, the indictment states.
The FBI also received the Apple iPhone ID tied to the calls, and determined, through records provided by Apple, that the calls were made from an iPod registered to Cardenas Hoffman, according to the indictment.
The FBI said in the indictment that it used messages sent and drafted in a Hotmail email account connected to one registered to the iPod to identify Cardenas Hoffman.
Cardenas Hoffman appeared before a U.S. magistrate judge in Florida and is set to return to court Thursday morning for a detention hearing.
"This complaint charges that Cardenas Hoffman made dozens of threatening telephone calls to residents of Newtown when they were suffering from one of the worst tragedies in our nation's history," Deirdre M. Daly, U.S. attorney for the District of Connecticut, said in a prepared statement. "Threatening such vulnerable people is reprehensible and inhuman criminal conduct. Further, it inappropriately stressed law enforcement resources at a critically demanding time. This case demonstrates the resolve of our office and the FBI to arrest individuals who believe that international boundaries will protect them from prosecution in the United States."
FBI Special Agent in Charge Patricia Ferrick said, "the motivation to catch criminals runs deep within the FBI, but the pursuit of criminals who prey on innocent victims motivates agents like nothing else."
Ferrick, who is in charge of the FBI's New Haven office, which investigated the case, said "that someone can so callously prey on a community with such hate and vitriol is beyond comprehension. This arrest, a year and a half after the Newtown tragedy, speaks to the unrelenting commitment and compassion for victims and their families and sends an important warning to those inclined to commit similar crimes. The FBI's reach is exceptionally far and wide and equally enduring."
Cardenas Hoffman faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 if convicted.
It was not immediately known if Cardenas Hoffman has an attorney.
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