A man accused of making 48 threatening phone calls to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, over her support of the health care reform bill was ordered held without bail by a federal magistrate today.
U.S. Magistrate Bernard Zimmerman said Gregory Giusti, 48, of San Francisco, is a danger to the public and to Pelosi.
“The government has established by clear and convincing evidence that he’s a danger to the community and to the victim,” Zimmerman said at a detention hearing in San Francisco.
“I find that if he is released there is a danger he will try to do what he has threatened to do,” he said.
Giusti is accused in a federal criminal complaint with threatening to destroy Pelosi’s San Francisco home in retaliation for her work on the health care reform law enacted by Congress last month.
In one recorded message, he allegedly said, “If you pass this freaking health care plan, don’t bother coming back to California cause you ain’t gonna have a place to live.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia Frey told Zimmerman at the hearing that Giusti had 15 previous convictions, including two felonies. The past crimes include convictions for harassment, making threats, vandalism and theft, Frey said.
Assistant Federal Public Defender Elizabeth Falk unsuccessfully sought to have Giusti held in a secure halfway house, without access to telephones, while awaiting trial.
She argued that Giusti is not violent, saying that he is a “kind soul” who was previously diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder.
Giusti’s mother, retired nurse Eleanor Giusti, testified that her son is “vocal, yes–he’s very vocal, unfortunately,” but said he had never been violent and has never hurt any one.
“He has a very kind heart,” she said.
But Zimmerman said, “It is very hard to me to square the person with a kind soul with the things he allegedly said.”
Zimmerman set Giusti’s next court appearance for April 19, for either a preliminary hearing on the existing complaint or an arraignment on an expected grand jury indictment. An indictment could contain different or additional charges.
Giusti is currently charged with one count of making threatening, harassing or obscene interstate phone calls. The charge concerns 30 calls he allegedly made from San Francisco to Pelosi’s Washington, D.C., home in February and March.
Giusti allegedly made 18 other local threatening calls to Pelosi’s San Francisco office, her husband’s office and one of her Bay Area residences.