UMass student arrested for alleged e-mail threat

By Sam Butterfield

Rep. William Snyder - MyFloridaHouse.gov

Web Update – Feb. 10, 3:00 p.m.

Michele Catalano, Manny Pintado’s sister, provided the Collegian Tuesday evening with further information about Mr. Pintado, the University of Massachusetts student suspected of threatening a Florida lawmaker and his family over a contentious immigration bill. Catalano said she is not a resident of Bergen County, N.J., although her phone number is registered to that area code, but that she is a resident of New Jersey. She also said that, despite reports from David Entin, a friend and fellow parishioner of Pintado’s at First Churches Northampton, Pintado does not have a daughter at Princeton University, or a daughter at all.

Web update: 5:23 p.m.

The Daily Collegian obtained a statement from Rep. William Snyder, the Stuart, Fla. state representative who was the target of threatening emails allegedly sent by a University of Massachusetts student.

Snyder said he is grateful to law enforcement in Florida and Massachusetts for their efforts, and glad Manuel Pintado, the suspect in the case, is in custody.

“I am grateful to the Martin County Sheriff’s office and the arresting officers from the Northampton Police Department for their dedication to the protection of public safety and am thankful that the individual is in custody and will be brought to justice,” he said.

Florida House of Representatives Press Secretary Lyndsey Cruley said neither Rep. Snyder nor any other Florida lawmakers are taking any additional precautions or security measures, and that Rep. Snyder is continuing with his legislative business as usual.

“No, Rep. Snyder did not take any additional precautions,” she said, “he notified the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and local law enforcement in Martin County, and at this point is back to his duties,” she said.

Manuel Pintado - Northampton Police Department

Manuel Pintado - Northampton Police Department

Web update: 4:36 p.m.

University of Massachusetts Executive Director of News and Media Relations Ed Blaguszewski confirmed that Manuel Pintado, the individual arrested in connection with sending threatening emails to a Florida lawmaker last night, is enrolled as a student at UMass.

Blaguszewski could not discuss specifics of whether or not the Dean of Students office would pursue sanctions against Pintado, but said that in situations where a student is arrested and the University becomes aware of charges, the Dean of Students generally commences proceedings.

—–

A University of Massachusetts student is awaiting extradition to Southeast Florida for allegedly making threatening emails to a Florida state representative.

Manuel Pintado, 47, of Northampton was being held at the Hampshire County House of Corrections in Northampton after police there took him into custody at the request of Martin County, Florida law enforcement.

Pintado was arrested last night for allegedly sending Rep. William D. Snyder, a Republican representing Florida’s House district 82, a message attacking him for his involvement in a bill which would allow police to ask anyone for proof of citizenship, according to a release from the Martin County Sheriff’s Office.

According to the Feb. 1 statement, the text of the email read “To the Honorable William D. Snyder; You better just stop that ridiculous law if you value you rand your familie’s lives ashole.”

Snyder’s office received the communication Jan. 8, and contacted Martin County Sheriff Robert L. Crowder’s office the next day.

Martin County Investigations Division Detective Brian Broughton then commenced an investigation to identify the sender and the legitimacy of the threat. Broughton was able to determine the sender of the unsigned email was Pintado, after tracing the email’s origin to a public access wireless Internet line originating at the Starbucks at 211 Main Street in downtown Northampton, a short distance from Pintado’s Hampton Street residence.

Broughton then contacted Northampton Police seeking support in the investigation. Northampton PD interviewed Pintado, who, according to the release, told police in the Pioneer Valley’s anchor city he views himself as a “political activist.” According to the release, Pintado admitted to NPD that he had sent the message, and said he believed Snyder was seeking to abolish the 14th Amendment, which establishes that all people “born or naturalized in the United States” are citizens of the U.S.

Snyder has led the charge in the Florida house on drafting an immigration bill which some have compared to the controversial law in Arizona which allows police to ask any citizen for proof of immigration papers or citizenship.

Pintado told Northampton Police he did not wish to harm Snyder, but also said “he was glad the email made him nervous.” Broughton was also able to confirm that Pintado had traveled from Massachusetts to Florida last December, “giving him the ability to carry out a threat against Representative Snyder.”

Broughton then secured warrants for Pintado’s arrest on charges of corruption by threat, a third-degree felony, and written threat to kill or do bodily harm, a second-degree felony.

Last night at approximately 8 p.m., Pintado was taken into custody without struggle in Northampton. According to the release, Pintado “has a history of multiple arrests in the Northeast,” and “lists his occupation as a student at the University of Massachusetts.”

Several phone calls to UMass’ executive director of news and media relations Ed Blaguszewski’s office and home phones were unreturned immediately, but a report in the Springfield Republican stated that Blaguszewski confirmed Pintado was a student at the University. Calls to the Registrar’s Office were also unanswered, as the office has closed due to the snow storm blanketing much of the Northeast.

In the statement, Martin County Sheriff Robert L. Crowder said he was glad his organization had been able to coordinate with its counterparts in Western Massachusetts to protect a public servant.

“The safety of those who serve the public, in any capacity, is of utmost importance and a matter we take very seriously,” he said. “This individual made a serious threat to both Representative Snyder and his family, and that is something that law enforcement and the citizens of the State of Florida will not tolerate.”

Northampton PD Capt. Scott Savino was reached before press time, but did not return calls seeking comment on the nature of the arrest and Pintado’s extradition status before press time. Calls to Snyder’s Tallahassee office were unanswered as of press time, and his Stuart, Fla. office was reached but did not deliver comment by press time.

Click here for further updates of this story.

Sam Butterfield can be reached at [email protected].