According to the LA Times, 48-year-old Giusti is accused of placing dozens of calls to Pelosi's homes in California and DC, and to her husband's business office. At one point he "allegedly recited her home address and warned that she should not support the healthcare overhaul bill that was recently signed into law if she wanted to see her home again." The FBI arrested him for making criminal threats, and San Francisco ABC affiliate KGO called his mom to find out more.
It's always sad when the mother of an accused criminal is not surprised at all that he's been arrested. Eleanor Giusti says,
Greg frequently gets in with a group of people that have really radical ideas and that are not consistent with myself or the rest of the family, which gets him into problems. I say Fox News, or all of those that are really radical, and he, that's where he comes from.
Indeed, Gregory Giusti has a history of "getting into problems." In 2004, he was arrested after trying to evade the fare on the San Francisco-area rail line CalTrain. I happened to be riding the CalTrain a lot in 2004, and I can tell you it was actually pretty hard to get in trouble for fare evasion — conductors and transit cops alike were pretty lenient, and I saw more than one person explain his or her way out of a fine by claiming to be lost, or from out of town, or in the midst of some family crisis. What apparently doesn't work, for all you would-be fare-evaders out there, is "yelling and threatening the conductor's life." This got Giusti arrested for — coincidence alert — making criminal threats. He's also gotten in trouble for petty theft, welfare fraud, and fare evasion on BART, the San Francisco area's subway system. The guy doesn't like affordable healthcare, but he apparently thinks transportation should be free.
In a reversal of the usual "he was quiet and mild-mannered" script played out by acquaintances of criminal suspects, Giusti's neighbors apparently think he's a jerk. Says one, Rose Riggs, "He was not one of my favorite people. He had a real attitude problem." Clearly Giusti has been spoiling for a fight since at least 2004, and it's no surprise that he managed to find one. He's not, however, the only anti-healthcare zealot to make threats in the wake of the bill's passage, nor is his mom the only person to take note of the influence of Fox News on said zealots (take a look, for instance, at Ted Nugent's bizarre exhortation to "kill the pigs" on this Your World segment). Insofar as Fox anchors have inspired a lunatic fringe, though, they've attempted to disavow it, and the really disturbing thing may be that people like Giusti now operate in a sort of Wild West of far-right hysteria, more extreme than even TV's most reactionary voices. Tea Partiers like Pam Stout have noted that their movement draws power from the grassroots, not from the top, and its individual members may be willing to do things that, say, Sarah Palin would never do. Gregory Giusti seems unhinged, but he could be the new face of the American right, and that's a pretty scary thought.