A man accused of threatening House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in phone calls cried Thursday during a court appearance where a magistrate initially refused his request to be released to a halfway house.
Gregory Lee Giusti, 48, of San Francisco looked disheveled in a gray T-shirt and khakis as he appeared for the first time before Magistrate Judge Bernard Zimmerman.
"Some of these threats are very serious," Zimmerman said before denying Giusti's request to be released to the halfway house. He said Giusti may suffer from bipolar disorder and should be receiving treatment.
The magistrate, however, told the U.S. attorney's office to interview Giusti further to determine if he was mentally competent enough to be released to a halfway house or if he should continue to be detained.
A detention hearing was scheduled for Monday.
Giusti is charged with making obscene, threatening or harassing phone calls to a member of Congress.
No plea was entered, and Giusti did not speak, except to say and spell his name when asked.
Giusti is accused of making the calls to Pelosi because of anger over health care reform. He was arrested Wednesday at a single-room occupancy public housing complex in San Francisco where he lived for the past nine years.
Giusti sat in a jury box Thursday speaking with a federal public defender before the hearing. The magistrate appointed counsel for Giusti after determining he could not afford to hire a lawyer.
If convicted, Giusti could receive a two-year prison sentence, $250,000 fine and one year of supervised release.
Federal officials have said Giusti made dozens of calls to Pelosi's homes and to her husband's business office. The officials said Giusti recited Pelosi's home address and said if she wanted to see it again, she would not support the health care overhaul bill that since has been enacted.
During an interview in New York, Pelosi said she doesn't know more than she did when she found out Wednesday about the arrest. She declined further comment on the case, citing the ongoing investigation.
Associated Press Writer Laurie Kellman in New York and Associated Press Writer Devlin Barrett in Washington contributed to this report.
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