Daniel Frisiello is a “prolific letter writer” who regularly sent notes to celebrities and public officials seeking autographs and a sounding board for sharing his thoughts, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
However, Assistant US Attorney Scott Garland said Wednesday in federal court in Boston that Frisiello’s correspondence took on a far more sinister tone when he mailed threatening notes containing white powder to the homes of President Trump’s adult sons and other public figures.
Frisiello, 25, of Beverly, pleaded guilty Wednesday to 19 counts of mailing threats and hoaxes. He was ordered to remain on home detention at his parents’ residence while he awaits sentencing, currently slated for January.
Prosecutors said Frisiello sent threatening letters laced with powder to Eric Trump in March 2016 and Donald Trump Jr. in February 2018.
He demanded in the 2016 letter that then-candidate Donald Trump Sr. drop out of the presidential race, or “the next letter would not be a fake,” US Attorney Andrew E. Lelling’s office said in a statement. Garland said that letter triggered a “full-on” hazmat response by police.
Court records show the later note to Trump Jr. said, “You are an awful, awful person, I am surprised that your father lets you speak on TV. You make the family idiot, Eric, look smart. This is the reason why people hate you, so you are getting what you deserve. So shut the [expletive] UP!”
The white powder wasn’t hazardous in either case, though Donald Jr.’s wife was taken to a hospital as a precaution after being exposed to the powder. The White House and Trump Organization did not immediately respond to inquiries seeking comment.
Prosecutors said Frisiello also mailed threats to authorities investigating the high-profile New England cases of Nathan Carman and Michelle Carter.
“Frisiello . . . sent letters to the heads of four law enforcement agencies in Connecticut and Rhode Island, warning them to drop an investigation into Nathan Carman, who allegedly killed his mother and grandfather, threatening that one police chief would join Carman’s mother ‘at the bottom of the sea’ and that a state police colonel would not only drown, but also receive ‘a bullet in [his] brain,’ ” Lelling’s office said.
Carman, of Vermont, hasn’t been charged criminally in connection with his grandfather’s murder or mother’s disappearance, though he faces related lawsuits that have generated heavy media coverage.
Frisiello suggested in his letters to police in Connecticut and Rhode Island that Carman’s mother was responsible for the death of Carman’s grandfather.
On Wednesday, Dan Small, a lawyer for Carman’s aunts, who are suing Carman in New Hampshire, said in a statement that “high-profile cases like this can be a magnet for wild theories, and we will not dignify these with detailed responses. This family has already suffered two unimaginably painful murders and is focused only on bringing the killer to justice.”
Also Wednesday, prosecutors disclosed details of Frisiello’s threats in the Carter case.
“In 2017, Frisiello sent a letter threatening to shoot the assistant district attorney who was prosecuting Michelle Carter for involuntary manslaughter and to also shoot the judge who was hearing the case,” Lelling’s office said.
Carter, 22, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for goading a friend to commit suicide via text message. Her appeal is pending.
Other threat recipients included a federal prosecutor in California, a Stanford law professor, a Congressional candidate, and the district office of US Senator Deborah Stabenow of Michigan, authorities said.
William Fick, a lawyer for Frisiello, said his client has cognitive and developmental issues stemming from brain damage at birth and is also autistic. He also suffers from anxiety, Fick said.
Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.