The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut and the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced Monday the August 17, 2012, arrest of a 51-year-old Jacksonville, Fla., man on numerous charges.
Frank Mendoza was charged with federal stalking, domestic violence and explosives offenses for threatening a woman and others over the course of a year, then traveling from Florida to Stamford, Conn., in December 2010 and placing two acid bombs in the woman's car.
Mendoza has been detained since his arrest in Jacksonville. On August 22, 2012, a federal grand jury sitting in Bridgeport returned an indictment charging Mendoza with four counts of interstate stalking, one count of interstate domestic violence and two counts of using an explosive in the commission of a felony.
Mendoza appeared Monday before United States Magistrate Judge Donna F. Martinez in Hartford and entered a plea of not guilty to the charges.
“As alleged, this defendant planted acid-filled explosives intended to cause serious, disfiguring injuries to his victim,” stated U.S. Attorney David Fein. “Last week marked the 18th Anniversary of the federal Violence Against Women Act, which has given the Department of Justice tools to prosecute domestic violence and stalking crimes. I commend the FBI JTTF in Connecticut and Florida, the Stamford Police Department and all of our partner investigative agencies, who have worked to investigate this matter to secure justice and provide safety for the victims of this crime.”
The indictment alleges that, in 2008, Mendoza began a romantic relationship with a woman (“Victim #1”) in Jacksonville, Fla. After approximately one year, his alleged abusive and threatening behavior caused Victim #1 to attempt to end the relationship.
Mendoza allegedly continued to threaten Victim #1, calling her repeatedly and leaving numerous threatening voicemails, according to authorities. On one occasion in the spring of 2010, Mendoza entered Victim #1’s apartment while she was sleeping and covered her in newspaper. Victim #1 awoke and found Mendoza with a lighter threatening to set her on fire, authorities said.
The indictment further alleges that, in approximately September 2010, as part of a ruse, Victim #1 and a friend (“Victim #2”) told Mendoza that Victim #1 was temporarily moving to Rhode Island for a work-related training program. Victim #1 and Victim #2 then relocated from Florida to Stamford, Conn. In October 2010, Mendoza learned that Victim #1 had moved to Connecticut and his threatening behavior allegedly continued, according to the release.
Authorities said in October and November 2010, Mendoza placed numerous harassing and threatening phone calls to Victim #1, Victim #2, and their male work colleague (“Victim #3”). The indictment further alleges that, in early November 2010, Mendoza traveled from Florida to Connecticut, visited Victim #1’s place of work and her and Victim #2’s apartment complex in Stamford, and then returned to Florida.
Then, on December 8, 2010, Mendoza allegedly flew from Florida to New York City, rented a car, drove with a family member to Victim #1’s Connecticut residence, and placed two acid bottle bombs in Victim #1’s car. At approximately 11:00 p.m. on December 8, 2010, Victim #1 approached her car and observed that the car’s interior had been dampened by a liquid. She also observed a two liter soda bottle on the driver’s side floor. When she picked the bottle up, it began to smoke and fizz. She then gently placed the bottle down and ran from the car. The bottle then exploded. Victim #1 immediately called the Stamford Police. The investigation has revealed that the bottle that Victim #1 picked up and one that had exploded before Victim #1 reached the car had each contained acid.
“[The] arrest is a warning to those who commit violent crimes that the FBI’s reach is far and wide,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Kimberly Mertz. “The threatening and insidious nature of the crimes with which Mr. Mendoza is charged will not be tolerated and the FBI’s pursuit of justice will not be deterred. The day-to-day work of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces and their local, state and federal partners often goes unheralded. This case is a great example of law enforcement working together to bring those charged with violent crimes to justice.”
If convicted, Mendoza faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000 on each charge of interstate stalking and interstate domestic violence. The charge of using an explosive in the commission of a felony carries a mandatory 10-year consecutive prison term. U.S. Attorney Fein stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This matter is being investigated by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces in New Haven and Jacksonville, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Connecticut State Police, the New Haven Police Department, the Stamford Police Department, the Stamford Bomb Squad, the Stamford Fire Department and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Krishna Patel and Vanessa Richards.
With a Corona beer between his legs and the remaining six-pack of beer in his car, a motorist was arrested by Greenwich Police on several charges including drinking while driving.
The Saturday afternoon incident unfolded as a Greenwich Police officer was directing traffic around an accident scene on Fairfield Road, according to a Greenwich Police report. The officer reported that the motorist failed to heed directions to stop as emergency medical service personnel treated a bicyclist who had fallen onto the road.
The officer noticed the opened bottle of Corona and asked the driver "if he had been drinking. He told the officer 'I just started,' " according to police spokesman Lt. Kraig Gray. "He passed field sobriety tests but didn't have a valid license. He had the first out of a six-pack ... that was found inside the car."
Samuel Mix Maldonado, 32, of 68 Garden St., Stamford, was charged with drinking while driving, operating without a valid license and failure to bring a motor vehicle to a stop. He was released after posting $1,000 bond and scheduled to appear Sept. 24 in state Superior Court in Stamford.
A Stamford woman surrendered to Greenwich Police who obtained an arrest warrant charging her with larceny and illegal credit card use.
According to police, Gelsimina Ceci, 50, of 279 E. Intervale Rd., Stamford, is accused of using a friend's credit card to make utility payments on May 30 and June 6. Police said the friend previously used the cards to help Ceci pay bills and that Ceci used those credit card numbers to make additional unauthorized payments.
Ceci was charged with fourth-degree larceny and sixth-degree larceny and two counts of illegal use of a credit card. She was released after posting $1,000 bond and scheduled to appeawr Sept. 21 in state Superior Court in Stamford.
Patrick Bohn, 46, of Hoyt St., was charged Sunday night with sixth-degree larceny.
Daniel Richard Gonzalez, 18, of Piave St., was charged late Sunday with third-degree criminal trespass, interfering/resisting, possession of a controlled substance, possession with intent to sell, possession of drug paraphernalia.
Alison Jex, 29, of Lawn Ave., was charged Sunday evening with second-degree breach of peace.
John Paul Kowalchyk, 63, of S. Pacific St., was charged Sunday night with second-degree breachof peace.
Nyssa Layne Nappari, 24, of Dolsen Pl., was charged Sunday night with sixth-degree larceny.
Elizabeth Wallenburg, 24, of Larsen St. in Norwalk, was charged Sunday night with sixth-degree larceny.
-- Greenwich Local Editor Barbara Heins contributedto this report with items from the Greenwich police blotter.