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Man charged with intimidating official

November 20, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - An assistant prosecutor in Berkeley County who was threatened this week by an inmate said she will carry a handgun or Mace to protect herself after the man is released from jail, police said.

Justin B. Cook, 24, of 15 Radiant Drive in Martinsburg, was charged Friday with a felony count of intimidation of a public official. He is charged with threatening Berkeley County Assistant Prosecutor Betsy Giggenbach.

According to court records filed in Berkeley County Magistrate Court by Detective Sgt. George Swartwood of the Martinsburg Police Department, Cook made the threats on Monday.

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Cook was in Circuit Judge David Sanders' courtroom for a bail reduction hearing for charges of malicious wounding and third-offense domestic battery, according to a spokeswoman in the prosecutor's office.

Sanders ordered that Cook be removed from the courtroom because he had made several outbursts and was "loud and unruly," police said.

As bailiffs Jeff Wilkins and Wayne Domenico took Cook back to Eastern Regional Jail, Cook used two expletives while saying he was going to "get" Giggenbach, court records allege.

He also said, "When I get out, I'll get you Jeff," referring to Wilkins, records state.

Both bailiffs considered the threats to be serious and believe Cook will act on them if given the chance, police said.

Giggenbach told police that she has dealt with Cook several times on a variety of matters. Cook's parents filed an ethics complaint against her after she refused to drop a charge of unlawful wounding that had been filed against their son, police said.

Cook previously has asked Giggenbach about her last name.

"Mr. Cook, who has made it known that he is associated with the Aryan Nation, has also made inquiries as to whether or not 'Giggenbach' is of Jewish origin. Ms. Giggenbach takes this inquiry as a subtle attempt to threaten her," court records state.

Last year, Cook was convicted of harassing a witness after he called a witness at home to tell the person he knew information about them, which he had obtained from police records, according to police.

After being threatened, Giggenbach told police, "I will keep track of Mr. Cook's release date from jail and upon his release, I feel it will be necessary for me to take steps to protect myself such as varying my routine, carrying a pistol and/or mace for my protection when I work late or when I am out in public with my family and to ensure that my home address and phone number are kept confidential," court records state.

Conviction on a charge of intimidation of a public official carries a sentence of one to 10 years in prison.

A spokeswoman at Eastern Regional Jail said Friday that Cook was being held on $180,000 bail.

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