Judge won’t release San Francisco man accused of threatening Pelosi over health care reform

Monday, April 12, 2010

Judge denies bail to man in Pelosi threats case

SAN FRANCISCO — A judge refused Monday to release a man accused of making threatening phone calls to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over her support of health care reform.

“If he is released, there a danger he will do what he threatened to do,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Bernard Zimmerman said about defendant Gregory Lee Giusti after a 20-minute hearing in federal court.

Zimmerman refused to grant bail to the 48-year-old San Francisco resident, citing the alleged threats and Giusti’s criminal record, which includes two felony convictions and 13 misdemeanor convictions during the past 10 years.

Prosecutors said Giusti made at least 48 calls to the San Francisco and Washington, D.C., offices of Pelosi between Feb. 6 and March 25.

Pelosi told the FBI the caller had used “extremely vulgar and crude language” on two occasions when she answered the phone at her Washington residence. She also thought her family might be in danger.

Zimmerman declined to order a mental health evaluation of Giusti, noting the suspect’s objection to an exam by a court-appointed psychiatrist.

Zimmerman said he would be amenable to such an evaluation if Giusti changed his mind.

The judge also found there was no evidence that Giusti was incompetent to face the single felony count of making obscene, threatening or harassing phone calls to a member of Congress.

Giusti hasn’t entered a plea. Zimmerman ordered him to return to court on April 19.

The heavy set, bearded Giusti, dressed in jail garb, spoke quietly to his lawyer during the hearing that included an unsuccessful plea by the suspect’s mother to let him to live at a halfway house instead of an Alameda County jail cell pending trial.

“He has never been violent,” Eleanor Giusti told the judge. “He is very vocal — unfortunately.”

will not be displayed