A Holliston man who allegedly threatened to kill President Obama, plant bombs in police stations, and attack a mosque was arrested by the FBI Friday after agents found assault rifle parts, ammunition, and handwritten notes threatening violence against Muslims in his home, according to authorities.
The allegations against Joseph Gargiulo, a 48-year-old real estate appraiser, were made public Monday when he appeared in federal court to face a single charge of possessing ammunition, which violated the terms of a restraining order obtained against him in June by his former wife.
The woman told the FBI on July 27 that she was worried about Gargiulo because he was stockpiling food and weapons and said “he will plant bombs in police stations . . . and kill as many homeland security officers as he can before they kill him,” according to an FBI affidavit.
A longtime friend of Gargiulo’s told the FBI Friday that he visited Gargiulo recently because he was concerned that his mental state “had gone downhill,” the affidavit says.
The friend, who was not named, said Gargiulo told him during their visit that he planned to “chain a mosque closed and burn it down” and “burn every [expletive deleted] down in there,” the affidavit says.
Gargiulo also told the friend that he wished he had killed Obama when he was golfing on Martha’s Vineyard recently, according to the affidavit.
Gargiulo’s attorney, Mark R. Meehan, told reporters outside the courthouse that Gargiulo “denies making any threats to anybody” and suggested the allegations stemmed from “ongoing custody issues” involving his two children.
“There’s a long history of false allegations on behalf of the mother of his children,” said Meehan, who represented Gargiulo during his 2007 divorce and said he never saw any signs that he was mentally unstable or has extreme political views. “There’s a broad range of views out there,” Meehan said. “His would not be considered mainstream, but they are certainly not exceptionally radical.”
US Magistrate Judge Jennifer C. Boal ordered Gargiulo held without bail pending a hearing Wednesday on whether he should remain in custody until the case is resolved. Prosecutors have yet to present evidence to a grand jury, which could result in more charges.
Gargiulo’s former wife, identified in state court records as Kara Florian, could not be reached for comment Monday. She obtained restraining orders against him in 2009 and June 2016, according to affidavits filed in Wrentham District Court.
In the 2009 case, Florian wrote that Gargiulo threatened to kill her and falsely accused her of abusing their children.
He also punched their 8-year-old son in the stomach, Florian wrote, and he has “a long history of abusing drugs and alcohol.”
She said he threatened her life on Christmas Eve in 2005 and damaged a home in Holliston with a baseball bat.
In the 2016 case, Florian wrote that Gargiulo “pulled a knife in a threatening manner with anger on our son while screaming ‘give me back my [expletive] knife.’ ’’
In the new federal case, the FBI affidavit refers to Florian as Witness 1 and said she warned the FBI that Gargiulo was unstable and hated gays, minorities, and police.
She told agents that Gargiulo believed that America’s structure would collapse and he was preparing for martial law. She said her two children saw Gargiulo stockpile Tasers, Mace guns, food, and water, and he had demonstrated the use of Tasers to both children by using them on himself and inanimate objects, according to the affidavit.
During Friday’s search of Gargiulo’s home, federal authorities seized parts for an AR-15, incendiary material, Tasers, Mace guns, ammunition, and the notes threatening violence against Muslims.
There was no answer Monday at Gargiulo’s home on Sweet Grass Lane in Holliston. The one-story yellow ranch house displayed an American flag hanging upside down.
A neighbor, who declined to give her name, said she heard BB gun rounds going off when Gargiulo had his children over for visits.
“Last month, he threw bottle rockets into the street,” the woman said, adding that no one called 911 because they did not want any trouble with him.
“He’s a bad dude,” she said.
The woman said he would also drive his truck, which had a loud motor, up and down the street in the middle of the night, waking neighbors.
“You can tell the guy’s off,” she said.
Another neighbor, who would give only his first name, Peter, said he told his kids to stay away from Gargiulo after he had an odd conversation with him several years ago.
Gargiulo asked Peter if he was a police officer.
Peter said no, and Gargiulo responded, “I can’t stand cops, I hate cops,” Peter said.
Yet, Peter said, Gargiulo appeared to be attentive to his kids when they came to visit.
“I think he was good with them,” Peter said.