A former Elmont man has been arrested by federal authorities on charges of sending menacing messages to his former wife in Arizona and smearing monthly maintenance checks with hazardous materials, prosecutors said Friday.
Gerald Desiderio, 51, who now lives in Garden City and holds jobs as a bartender and at a pizza shop, was arrested Thursday and charged with interstate stalking, mailing hazardous materials and obstruction of the mail, according to the U.S. attorney's office for the Eastern District of New York.
Desiderio's ex-wife, who was not further identified, told postal inspectors that she believed the material smeared on several checks was feces and that she fell ill with flulike symptoms and gastric problems after handling one of the first checks, according to a court affidavit from a U.S. Postal Service inspector.
The affidavit said preliminary tests showed the brown material smeared on the checks "came back with numerous hits for organic substances that contained proteins and active biological materials," but that more conclusive testing was still being done.
Desiderio and his wife were divorced in Nassau County in 2012, and he had agreed to pay her "spousal maintenance" of $1,720 monthly, the court documents said.
The wife "stated that since her divorce from Gerald Desiderio, his harassment escalated to the point where she felt that she had to move from New York to Cottonwood, Ariz., for her safety," the court documents said.
Because of the potential health risk, the Cottonwood Post Office has been putting the woman's incoming mail in quarantine and having it checked by inspectors trained in handling hazardous materials, the affidavit said.
Some of the checks were accompanied by a sketch of a woman in a straitjacket, pictures of people engaged in sexual acts and one of a serrated knife, the court documents said.
The U.S. attorney's office did not know whether Desiderio had an attorney, and no attorney was listed in the online court records.