Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Crime: Venezuelan Man Arrested for Threatening Newtown Residents After School Shooting Tragedy

U.S. Attorney’s Office 
District of Connecticut

Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Patricia M. Ferrick, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, today announced that 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 Elementary School shooting tragedy in December 2012.

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 December 16, 2012, two days after the shooting that claimed 26 lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. In one of the telephone calls, 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, HOFFMAN allegedly stated: “This is Adam Lanza. I’m gonna kill you. You’re dead. With my machine gun. You’re dead [expletive].”

CARDENAS HOFFMAN was arrested on Saturday as he transitioned through Miami International Airport en route to Mexico from Venezuela. He made his initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge William C. Turnoff in the Southern District of Florida and is scheduled to return to court on Thursday at 10 a.m. for a detention hearing.

“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,” stated U.S. Attorney Daly. “Threatening such vulnerable people is reprehensible and inhuman criminal conduct. Further, 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.”

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

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.

U.S. Attorney Daly stressed that the filing of a criminal complaint is not evidence of guilt. The charges in a criminal complaint are only allegations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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