A federal magistrate judge today denied, again, a request by a Hyde Park man that he be allowed to stay at home, away from the Internet and on an ankle bracelet while he awaits trial on charges he threatened more than just death against a mixed-race couple with whom he allegedly got into a text war on Facebook.
Stephen DeBerardinis, 45, faces one count of transmitting in interstate commerce threats to injure a person, one count of tampering with a witness and victim by intimidation, threats, and corrupt persuasion and one count of tampering with a witness and victim by harassment. He has been held at the Plymouth County House of Correction since his arrest in September.
DeBerardinis was a prominent participant in a "Back the Blue" rally in front of the West Roxbury police station in September, at which police had to pull him out of a brawl with protesters after he tried to punch some of them. He responded to Universal Hub coverage of the event, which included two photos of him, with e-mail threats to "COME FOR YOU HARD HAHAHAHAHAHA."
At a hearing today, his attorney, Jessica Thrall, asked US District Court Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler to release him on bail with conditions that would include he live with his mother in Hyde Park, he not be allowed access to the Internet and that he wear a GPS device. Thrall said DeBernardinis is really a loving family man who just wants to be home in time for his son's first birthday in two days.
She said the fact that nothing happened between the time he allegedly made the threats against the couple - which he denies - and the eight months until his indictment proves he's not going to do anything except show up in court. She pointed to letters of support from members of law enforcement that he's fundamentally a good man and not a threat to the community.
But assistant US Attorney Scott Garland said simply letting him return to the family home would just let him repeat his past behavior - make threats against people and then grow more outraged at them, especially if he learns they've reported him to police. He said that DeBarardinis has had 13 abuse-prevention orders issued against him over the past 20 years - and that he's been convicted of violating 6 of them, once in an incident involving a family member.
Even if he had no computer of his own, he'd still have a phone - and access to the computers and other devices of other people in the house and visitors, on which he could start threatening people again, Garland said.
"He's shown over and over again that these sort of conditions are things he does not obey," Garland said.
Bowler pointed to that as her main reason for keeping him locked up in the Plymouth County House of Correction.
"I don't think I have seen a record with 13 abuse-prevention orders and at least 6 violations," Bowler said.
"The conduct in this case is serious," she said, finding DeBerardnis "a danger to the community." She added that while she does not think DeBeradinis would simply flee the state, she is also not sure he would show up for all of his court appearances.