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YORK, Maine — Charged with 11 crimes alleging he sent emails, which appeared to be from area police and education officials making violent threats, Austin Santoro plans to “assert a defense of insanity,” according to federal court records.
Santoro, 22, of 122 Cider Hill Road, York, is being held without bail for allegedly breaching bail conditions by assaulting his father on April 22 in York. His bail conditions, mandating good behavior, were set earlier in April when he was arrested for five federal counts of transmitting threatening interstate communications, two counts of maliciously conveying false information concerning use of an explosive and four counts of identity theft. All 11 federal charges are felonies and each carries a possible sentence of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
In a notice to the U.S. District Court filed Wednesday, Santoro’s public defender J. Hilary Billings reports his client seeks to pursue an insanity defense. A companion motion asks the court to postpone a May 21 hearing scheduled to hear arguments about whether Santoro’s bail should be further revoked. That motion states Santoro is asking the court for a “psychiatric and/or psychological examination through a commitment to the custody of the Attorney General for placement at a suitable facility for such an examination.”
Santoro’s lawyer also informed the court his client seeks a hearing for the determination of his mental competency to stand trial. Billings reports the federal prosecutor does not object.
Some of the federal charges allege Santoro sent emails that appeared to be from Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Merner and were sent to female members of the Portsmouth Police Department, containing threats of rape at gunpoint. Santoro is also alleged to have sent 10 emails to the York Police Department, three to the Kittery Police Department, seven involving Boston University emails, eight involving York County Community College, seven related to the town of York and one associated with the York School Department.
According to an affidavit by Homeland Security Agent Derek Dunn, to mask the source of the emails, Santoro used an electronic service based in the Czech Republic, which cooperated with the investigation.
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