Winchester Man Arraigned in Connection with Online Intimidation, Harassment Campaign Against Man and his Company
WOBURN – A Winchester man has been arraigned in connection with waging an online intimidation and harassment campaign against another man and his company, Attorney General Maura Healey’s Office announced today.
Steven C. Fustolo, age 57, was arraigned today in Woburn District Court on charges of Criminal Harassment and Intimidation of a Witness. Fustolo pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released on personal recognizance with the condition that he have no contact with the victim and his family. He is due back in Woburn District Court on Sept. 11 for a pre-trial hearing.
“We allege that this defendant caused significant financial and emotional distress to the victim through an online campaign of harassment,” said AG Healey. “We will not tolerate people hiding behind their computer screens and committing criminal intimidation or harassment.”
This is the first time the AG’s Office has used the criminal harassment statute for conduct that allegedly occurred online.
Authorities allege that Fustolo planned and executed a scheme to harass and intimidate the CEO of an investment advising company that had filed a bankruptcy proceeding against him. Fustolo owes more than $30 million to the company pursuant to a court judgment.
Fustolo allegedly paid to create a seemingly official-looking website that claimed to be devoted to ferreting out corporate abuse. Posing as various commentators, Fustolo wrote and published various harassing “news articles” of purported wrongdoing by the victim and his company in an attempt to coerce the victim to forego or settle the bankruptcy proceeding.
Through a variety of online press release services, Fustolo also distributed innumerable additional articles and video “news” stories that purported to be authored by others.
He also mailed hard copies of these articles to the victim’s neighbors and business associates. Authorities allege that these articles caused significant financial and emotional distress to the victim and jeopardized his business and family life.
Additionally, the victim’s family was also allegedly harassed by Fustolo after he posted their home address online and a video that had pictures of the victim’s daughter and her fiancé as well as the date and location of their wedding. The commentator in this video mentioned that a “surprise visitor” might show up at the wedding.
State Police obtained and, on Thursday, executed search warrants authorizing the search of Fustolo’s residence in Winchester and his office in Burlington.
The investigation is ongoing. These are allegations and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Thomas Ralph, chief of AG Healey’s Cyber Crime Division and Assistant Attorneys General Benjamin Hoerner and Allyson Portney, also of AG Healey’s Cyber Crime Division. It was investigated by Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Attorney General’s Office and investigators from the AG’s Digital Evidence Lab.