YORK, Maine — While launching an insanity defense against 11 charges alleging he sent emails, which appeared to be from police and education officials making violent threats, Austin Santoro has agreed to be held without bail pending a trial.
In a Sept. 6 notice to the U.S. District Court of Maine, Santoro’s lawyer J. Hilary Billings gave consent to the federal government’s motion to revoke his client’s bail. The notice states Santoro previously agreed to submit to custody of the attorney general’s office, while seeking a competency determination, which remains pending.
According to his lawyer, Santoro arrived at the Federal Medical Center, in Devens, Massachusetts, on July 13 for a forensics examination and he remains there, though he has not yet received a report summarizing his evaluation. His lawyer also expressed concern to the federal court that the evaluation process is “consuming more time than is properly excludable” under the Speedy Trial Act.
In response, U.S. Magistrate Judge John H. Rich III issued an order Friday granting federal prosecutors’ request to revoke Santoro’s bail and ordering he be detained pending trial.
Santoro, 22, of 122 Cider Hill Road, York, is alleged to have assaulted his father April 22 while under bail conditions mandating his good behavior. Those conditions 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.
Some of the federal charges allege Santoro sent emails that appeared to be from Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Merner to female members of the 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, 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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