Blaine man pleads guilty in web threat

Published on Thu, Oct 9, 2008 by ara Nelson

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Blaine man pleads guilty in web threat

By Tara Nelson

A Blaine man who posted threatening comments on the website of a county newspaper will not face jail time if he is able to follow through on a deferred sentence.

Jeffrey N. Gargaro, 28, was arrested last month in suspicion of felony malicious harassment when he posted comments on The Bellingham Herald’s web site threatening to “shoot up Sunset Square.”

The comments were in response to a September 2 story about a shooting incident near Alger that left six people dead and several others injured.

He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct in Whatcom County Superior Court Tuesday.

Whatcom County prosecutor Dave McEachran said Gargaro was given a six-month deferred sentence of 90 days in jail and ordered to pay $1,171 to the Bellingham police department for time spent working on the case, along with court costs and a $250 fine that will fund a victim’s panel.

McEachran said if Gargaro is able to pay the fines and avoid new charges for six months, the crime will be removed from his record.
“We certainly hope people will get the message that there will be consequences for people who post things like this on blogs,” McEachran said. “The police looked at this as a very serious thing. Whether this kind of speech is protected or not, you can’t, in this day and age, be threatening to blow things up or shoot people. I think this case really stands for that.”

Gargaro apologized in court and said his comments were made in the “heat of the moment,” but that he could understand why police were concerned.