The Federal Bureau of Investigation has arrested a Venezuelan man, charging him with making numerous telephone calls to Newtown residents on December 16, 2012, lodging threats against those residents two days after the Sandy Hook School incident in which Adam Lanza killed 26 people before killing himself.
Wilfredo Anibal Cardenas Hoffman, 30, of El Hatillo, Venezuela, was charged on June 21 with transmitting threats to injure via interstate or foreign commerce.
Cardenas Hoffman was arrested on June 21 while he was at Miami International Airport en route to Mexico from Venezuela, according to a statement from Deirdre Daly, who is the US Attorney for Connecticut, and Patricia Ferrick, FBI special agent in charge of the FBI’s New Haven field office.
Cardenas Hoffman made an initial court appearance on June 23 before US Magistrate Judge William Turnoff in the Southern District of Florida.
Cardenas Hoffman is scheduled to return to court on June 26 for a detention hearing. The US Attorney for Connecticut is seeking to have the defendant detained in Connecticut to face the federal charge.
Following an FBI investigation, the Venezuelan man was charged with the crime in a complaint filed on May 20, 2013. It took 13 months before he was arrested on a warrant while he was in Miami.
According to that criminal complaint, a redacted copy of which was unsealed June 23, Cardenas Hoffman, in one of the telephone calls, allegedly stated: “This is Adam Lanza. I’m gonna [expletive] kill you. You’re dead. You’re dead. You hear me? You’re dead.”
In another telephone phone call, he allegedly stated: “This is Adam Lanza. I’m gonna kill you. You’re dead. With my machine gun. You’re dead [expletive].”
The criminal complaint alleges that Cardenas Hoffman made 96 telephone calls to the Newtown area on December 16, 2012. Those calls were either made from or routed through Venezuela, according to the complaint.
The recipients of four of the calls were interviewed by law enforcement agents and all four of them reported receiving a threatening call, according to the complaint.
“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,” Ms Daly said in the 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,” she added.
“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,” said Ms Ferrick.
“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,” Ms Ferrick said.
The charge of transmitting threats in interstate or foreign commerce carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years and a fine of up to $250,000.