Man accused of cyberstalking SUNY Geneseo student may take plea
(WHAM) - The FBI says a Long Island man targeted his ex-girlfriend by sending cocaine to her dorm at SUNY Geneseo, sabotaging her test scores - then terrorizing her sorority.
Thomas Traficante, 23, of Long Island returned to federal court in Rochester where it was learned a plea deal to resolve the matter may be in the works. "We are working towards a resolution to this case if it can be fair to all sides," said defense attorney Raymond Perini.
Traficante is accused of retaliating against a SUNY Geneseo student and her sorority after she broke off their relationship. The chilling allegations are contained in a 15-page complaint filed in December.
At 4:00 p.m. on November 1, members of the Sigma Kappa Sorority received a startling message. "It's not safe out there tonight Kappas," the message read. The message came directly to their private cell phones. Twenty four hours later, a second message came in: "One night doesn't make Kappas or their dates any safer."
And later: "Harm is coming."
The FBI sayd Traficante used the Internet to generate a number not linked to a specific cell phone yet carrying a 585 area code. It is a way to make sure the call could not be immediately identified or traced but appeared to come from the Rochester or Geneseo area. At the time he was not a student at SUNY Geneseo, but his ex-girlfriend was. They had met online and dated for a short time.
After the break up, Traficante alluded to taking his own life but FBI agents say the real target of these alleged threats were others - at first including his ex. Court documents say he sent her 1.4 grams of cocaine through the mail then alerted the university police she was a drug user.
Traficante is accused of posting her contact information on a prostitution website; she later received 60 calls from unknown numbers seeking sex. It's also alleged he hacked into chemistry class online and failed her exams. "He's never been involved with the law before. No history of this type of behavior," said Perini. "I believe that who he is and who he has been is not quite what's portrayed in that six-week period."
Parini argues his client graduated from St. John's University with honors and is now in a CPA graduate course earning "straight A's."
Yet documents suggest that until the arrest, the stalking at Sigma Kappa escalated. The anonymous texts showed knowledge of members' private plans. After receiving the message, "I'm in the house," sorority members told police they were scared for their safety.
"I had a daughter go to school in Washington; if this was happening to her I'd be very upset," Parini said. He said while the break up is an explanation, it is not an excuse.
"We need to explore what happened and why it happened," Parini said. "I want to see if we can try to get justice on all sides."
Traficante waived his right to a bail hearing for now. Cyberstalking is punishable by up to five years in prison.
A court appearance is scheduled in March to see whether a plea bargain can be reached.