Man arrested for threatening Newtown residents

A Venezuelan man has been arrested for allegedly threatening Newtown residents in the immediate aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Wilfrido A. Cardenas Hoffman, 30, of El Hatillo, Venezuela, was arrested on June 21 in Miami on a federal criminal complaint charging him with making numerous threatening phone calls to residents of Newtown, Connecticut, shortly after the Sandy Hook shooting in December 2012.

Cardenas Hoffman was arrested June 21 as he transitioned through Miami International Airport en route to Mexico from Venezuela.

On May 20, 2013, Cardenas Hoffman was charged in a criminal complaint with transmitting threats in interstate or foreign commerce to injure the person of another.

According to the complaint, a redacted copy of which was unsealed today, Cardenas Hoffman made numerous phone calls to residents of Newtown on Dec. 16, 2012, two days after the shooting that claimed 26 lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Claimed to be Adam Lanza

In one of the telephone calls, Cardenas Hoffman 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 phone call, Cardenas Hoffman allegedly stated: “This is Adam Lanza. I’m gonna kill you. You’re dead. With my machine gun. You’re dead [expletive].”

After being detained in the Miami airport, Cardenas Hoffman made an initial appearance Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge William C. Turnoff in the Southern District of Florida. He is scheduled to return to court in Miami on June 26 for a detention hearing.

‘Reprehensible and inhuman conduct’

“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,” said Deirdre M. Daly, U.S. attorney for Connecticut. “Threatening such vulnerable people is reprehensible and inhuman criminal conduct.

“Further,” Daly said, “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.”

FBI Special Agent in Charge Ferrick said 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. 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,” Ferrick said, “The FBI’s reach is exceptionally far and wide and equally enduring.”

Max is five years in jail, $250,000 fine

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.

The case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Edward Chang and Krishna Patel in Connecticut, with the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida and Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Schall.