A man accused of making threatening phone calls to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, made an initial appearance in federal court today and was ordered held without bail.
Gregory Giusti, 48, of San Francisco, was told by U.S. Magistrate Bernard Zimmerman that he is charged with one count of violating a federal law that makes it a crime to make obscene, harassing or threatening interstate phone calls.
The maximum penalty if he is convicted would be two years in prison, one year of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.
The heavyset Giusti, who was wearing a gray T-shirt, khaki-colored pants and glasses at the hearing at the Federal Building in San Francisco, was arrested by the FBI at his Tenderloin apartment on Wednesday.
Assistant Public Defender Elizabeth Falk asked Zimmerman to consider releasing Giusti to a halfway house in a secure “lockdown situation” with no access to telephones.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia Frey argued that Giusti could dangerous if released. She said Giusti said in an interview with the defense that he suffers from bipolar disorder.
Zimmerman said, “I don’t think I’m going to release this person until I know a lot more about him.”
He ordered Giusti to remain in custody until a detention hearing in his courtroom on Monday and said the court’s pretrial services department will prepare a mental evaluation report before then.
Giusti has a previous criminal history that includes convictions in San Mateo County for threatening a Caltrain conductor and committing vandalism against BART. He has San Francisco convictions for perjury in a welfare fraud case and petty theft.
Giusti was sued in a civil harassment lawsuit filed last year by the Hamilton Square Baptist Church in San Francisco. The lawsuit alleges he conducted a “campaign of harassment” against the church, including making threatening phone calls, according to church attorney John Jones.
Giusti lives in single-room occupancy housing in an apartment building on Jones Street run by the nonprofit Mercy Housing.