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Acting Essex County Prosecutor Warns Youth Against Posting Threats on Social Media

DATE:  2/28/2018
Joseph Rafanello, Michael Schmitt

Feb. 27, 2018

Acting Essex County Prosecutor: Threats Against Schools Are a Serious Crime

Newark – Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino issued a warning today to juveniles and others tempted to threaten schools on social media.

In the wake of the shooting in Florida, Essex County has had three incidents of teens, ranging in age from 13 years old to 18 years old, making threats against schools.

“These copycat incidents are serious crimes and those who engage in this kind of criminal conduct face serious consequences,’’ said Acting Essex County Prosecutor Laurino.

“We want to make it clear to young people who think this is a joke or a prank, that they will be prosecuted for this behavior,’’ said Acting Prosecutor Laurino.
In the last few days there has been a considerable spike in incidents.
Michael Schmitt, 18, of West Caldwell has been charged with false public alarm after he allegedly posted a threat against Caldwell High School on social media on Saturday.
On Feb. 16, two days after the Valentine’s Day shooting in Florida, Joseph Rafanello, 18, of Nutley was also charged with false public alarm after an incident closed the Nutley High School.
A 13-year-old from Madison and 14-year-old from Nutley were also charged with causing a false public alarm for making a threat against Abundant Life Academy, a private Pre-K to 12th-grade school in Nutley. One of the juveniles was a current student the other was a former student at the school.

Rafanello and Schmitt remain in custody at the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark. Rafanello is scheduled to have a detention hearing tomorrow. Schmitt’s detention hearing is scheduled for March 1. Both hearings are scheduled before the Honorable Peter Ryan, Judge of the Superior Court.

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