Prosecutor says man accused of threatening Boston Globe workers may have menaced others

Robert D. Chain and his wife, attorney Betsy Staszek Chain, left the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse in Boston Monday.
Robert D. Chain and his wife, attorney Betsy Staszek Chain, left the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse in Boston Monday.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Law enforcement authorities are investigating whether the California man accused of making threatening calls to The Boston Globe made similar calls to The New York Times and the National Football League, a federal prosecutor said in court Monday.

The new information came as Robert D. Chain pleaded not guilty in a Boston courtroom to charges that he made menacing phone calls to the Globe last month. The calls, in which he allegedly said he planned to shoot and kill Boston Globe employees, sparked an investigation by the FBI’s Domestic Terrorism Squad.

Chain, 68, appeared in court in a dark gray suit and glasses. He had trimmed the long, purple locks he sported at an earlier hearing in California, instead wearing dark hair cut short.


Chain only spoke to tell Magistrate Judge Donald L. Cabell that he understood his rights and to plead “not guilty, your honor” to each of the seven charges of making threatening communications in interstate commerce.

He declined to comment after the hearing.

Chain allegedly started telephoning the Globe from California on Aug. 10, when the Globe’s editorial board called for a nationwide response to President Trump’s repeated use of the phrase “enemy of the people’’ to describe the news media.

During the next 12 days, federal prosecutors allege, Chain made 14 telephone calls to the Globe’s main newsroom line.

In two calls on Aug. 13, Chain allegedly told Globe employees that “you are the enemy of the people; we will hunt you down and kill you and your dogs,’’ authorities allege.

He also used lewd language as he told an employee “we’re gonna shoot you [expletive] in the head, you Boston Globe [expletive].”

Chain was arrested at his home in Encino, Calif., by an FBI SWAT team armed with military-style weapons and what neighbors described as flash-bang grenades. Agents found 20 firearms in his home, including a semi-automatic rifle purchased in May, records show. He does not face any charges in connection with the guns found in his home.


Chain has not been charged with placing calls to any other organizations, but Assistant US Attorney George P. Varghese said in US District Court in Boston on Monday that investigators were looking into whether he had also called the Times and the NFL. Varghese did not offer additional information.

The details came as Varghese requested GPS monitoring for Chain. He is free on $50,000 bond and has been ordered to stay away from the Globe, but Varghese noted that the defendant is in Boston for several days for his court hearing.

“We have no idea where he goes during that time period,” Varghese said.

Defense attorneys did not object to the additional monitoring.

The threats to the Globe came less than two months after a Maryland man shot and killed five employees at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, although there was no suggestion that the suspect in that case was motivated by Trump’s rhetoric.

John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe. Andy Rosen can be reached at andrew.rosen@globe.com.