An affidavit unsealed in federal court today alleges that a San Francisco man made 48 threatening and sometimes obscene phone calls to the homes and offices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her husband over the past two months.
In one recorded message on March 25, Gregory Giusti, 48, 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.”
The affidavit by FBI Agent Bryan Smith was included in a federal criminal complaint filed by prosecutors Wednesday and unsealed today after Giusti made an initial court appearance before a U.S. magistrate.
Giusti is charged in the complaint with one count of making obscene, harassing or threatening interstate phone calls. He was arrested at his Tenderloin apartment on Wednesday.
At today’s hearing, U.S. Magistrate Bernard Zimmerman informed Giusti of the charge and ordered him held without bail until a detention hearing on Monday.
The federal charge concerns 30 interstate phone calls Giusti allegedly made from San Francisco to Pelosi’s Washington, D.C., residence between Feb. 6 and March 25.
The affidavit also alleges Giusti made another 18 local threatening calls to one of Pelosi’s Northern California residences, her district office in San Francisco and her husband’s office in San Francisco.
Smith’s affidavit says that Pelosi, D-San Francisco, personally answered one of the calls to her Washington, D.C., home.
Pelosi allegedly told investigators, according to the affidavit, that “the caller used extremely vulgar and crude language and threatened her, stating ‘when you go back to San Francisco, you won’t have a home to go back to.'”
The affidavit says Pelosi told investigating agents that on the basis of that statement, she believed her family might be in danger.
Smith says in the document that Giusti used a voice-over-Internet-provider device known as a “Magic Jack” to make the calls over the Internet.
Giusti allegedly bragged in some of the calls that his number was untraceable, saying in one recorded message, “the number I’m calling from is untraceable so if you’re trying to trace it have fun.”
The affidavit said investigators traced the calls to a phone number assigned to the Magic Jack account of a San Francisco man identified as Bill H.
In an interview with agents on March 29, Bill H. allegedly identified the voice on message recordings as Giusti’s, saying that he knew Giusti from their church, but that Giusti was expelled from the church for making harassing phone calls to other members.
Giusti’s former church is the Hamilton Square Baptist Church in San Francisco. The church sued him last year for allegedly conducting a “campaign of harassment,” including making threatening phone calls, according to church attorney John Jones.
The affidavit says that when an FBI agent and three San Francisco police officers interviewed Giusti in his apartment on March 30, he initially denied making the calls.
But the FBI agent then used his cell phone to call the number of the Magic Jack account. The telephone attached to Giusti’s computer rang and Giusti picked it up. He then admitted he had called the congresswoman, according to the affidavit.
Giusti wrote a statement admitting he had called Pelosi and had “called her a witch and said I did not like her pushing the healthcare bill down the peoples (sic) throats,” the affidavit says.
In a second interview on April 1, Giusti allegedly admitted that the voice on four recorded messages was his, according to the affidavit.
The affidavit alleges that the 30 interstate threatening calls made by Giusti to Pelosi’s Washington, D.C., residence included three on Feb. 6; 19 on March 20; six on March 21; and two on March 25.
The victim of the phone calls is identified in the affidavit as a congresswoman from San Francisco with the initials N.P.
If Giusti is convicted of the charge, the maximum penalty would be two years in prison, one year of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.
Giusti, a heavyset man, wore a gray T-shirt, khaki-colored pants and glasses at today’s hearing at the Federal Building.
Assistant Public Defender Elizabeth Falk asked Zimmerman to consider releasing him 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 be 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 the detention hearing 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.