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Ivanka Trump stalking suspect faces new NY charges
Question of the Day
NEW YORK (AP) - A self-described celebrity stalker kept trying to contact Ivanka Trump and her relatives even as he faced charges of harassing her and a court order to stay away, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Justin Massler pleaded not guilty to upgraded charges. The Reno, Nev.-based Massler _ who had his name legally changed to Cloud Starchaser and gave his address as “a volcano in Hawaii,” prosecutors said _ is being held without bail.
Massler, 28, was initially arrested last year. Prosecutors say he unleashed a slate of emails and tweets about his fixation with the NBC “Celebrity Apprentice” co-host, whose parents are Donald and Ivana Trump.
“I should stop bothering her, but I like her,” Massler sighed to a detective on a plane ride bringing him to New York after his arrest last year, according to a court document released Tuesday.
In tweets directed at Ivanka Trump, Massler said his “dream in life” was to marry her, according to the court complaint. At times, his remarks turned more bizarre and ominous, the document said: He threatened to commit suicide in her Manhattan jewelry store and said he wanted to “talk some sense into” her husband, Jared Kushner, and “commandeer” the newspaper that Kushner publishes, The New York Observer.
Massler also has said he’d die before being caught and “would go down in a hail of gunfire,” assistant district attorney Lucrece Francois told a judge Tuesday.
Massler’s lawyer, George Vomvolakis, has said the messages didn’t amount to crimes. Massler, who has spent time in a mental hospital, never came close to Trump and didn’t intend to follow through on his comments, the lawyer said.
“He’s got a very eccentric sense of humor,” Vomvolakis said last year. He didn’t immediately return a call Tuesday evening.
Massler was released last year on $10,000 bond and ordered not to contact Trump and some of her relatives. An indictment says Massler nonetheless kept trying to communicate with Trump, Kushner and others close to her in recent months.
Massler skipped some of his court dates and was arrested recently in Los Angeles.
The charges against him now include felony criminal contempt counts that carry the possibility of up to four years in prison if he’s convicted.
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