The New York man accused of threatening the judge presiding over the criminal trial of President Donald Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn will not be released from jail.
Magistrate Judge Michael Harvey of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia denied Frank Caporusso’s petition for pretrial release on Thursday, according to Politico’s account. The 52-year-old Caporusso on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to one count of threatening to assault or murder a federal judge in order to interfere with his official duties, and one count of making an interstate threat in connection with a voicemail he allegedly left for U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan.
During Tuesday’s arraignment hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachel Fletcher said that on May 14, Caporusso called Sullivan’s chambers and promised that the judge and his staffers would be murdered for refusing to dismiss the criminal case against Flynn.
“You will not be safe,” Caporusso reportedly said in the voicemail. “A hot piece of lead will cut through your skull. You bastard. You will be killed, and I don’t give a fuck who you are. Back out of this bullshit before it’s too late, or we’ll start cutting down your staff.”
The voicemail concluded with Caporusso allegedly saying, “This is not a threat – this is a promise.”
One day prior to the voicemail, Sullivan appointed John Gleeson, a former federal judge in New York, as amicus curiae to present arguments in opposition to the Justice Department’s motion to dismiss the criminal charges against Flynn. Sullivan had been particularly reticent to grant the DOJ’s motion considering that the retired lieutenant general – a close ally of President Trump – had twice pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents.
Although the threatening message left for Sullivan came from an anonymous caller, federal prosecutors were able to obtain phone records from AT&T which revealed that the phone number belonged to Caporusso since 2003.
Caporusso’s attorney David Benowitz argued that his client should be released until the start of his trial, emphasizing that a five-month investigation did not uncover any evidence of Caporusso taking any steps to plan or follow through on the threats. Benowitz also noted that investigators first interviewed Caporusso about the voicemail more than three months before his arrest, thereby demonstrating that he was not a flight risk.
Judge Harvey conceded that Caporusso was not a flight risk, but ruled against his petition due to the nature of the crime in question.
“It took only 40 seconds and a phone line to commit the crime the defendant has been charged with,” Harvey reportedly said Thursday. “I know of no condition or combination of conditions that can reasonably assure he won’t have the opportunity to make another threat if he were released.”
Harvey also noted that the caller 1) didn’t appear to sound “unhinged, out of his mind, or intoxicated” in the voicemail; and 2) tried to contact Sullivan several times after the initial voicemail.
U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden, a Trump appointee, will preside over Caporusso’s criminal trial. If convicted as charged, the defendant faces up to 15 years in prison
[image via CHRIS KLEPONIS/AFP via Getty Images]
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