Man Behind 2017 City Council Death Threats Sentenced to 180 Days

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A man was sentenced to jail time after pleading no contest to sending death threats to multiple current and former Malibu City Council Members back in 2017.

The defendant, identified as 48-year-old Anthony Saladino, sent the threats via email after news regarding city council members suggesting the Malibu United Methodist Church (MUMC) stop its weekly homeless dinners made national headlines. 

At a November 2017 city council meeting following the news, then-Council Member Laura Rosenthal said, “I had to take my phone number off the city website … Some of the emails—you wouldn’t want them to go to anybody you know.”

Council Member Rick Mullen—who was mayor pro tem at the time—described Saladino’s email in particular: “We all got the letter from the guy who asked me, ‘Do I want to get shot in the back of the head or between the eyes?’”

The LA County District Attorney’s Office had Saladino, a New York resident, extradited to Los Angeles to face the charges on Oct. 24, 2018. He was then arraigned on Dec. 19, 2018, at the Van Nuys Courthouse on one count of felony for criminal threats. 

Under California penal code 422(a), criminal threats are defined, in part, as “Any person who willfully threatens to commit a crime which will result in death or great bodily injury to another person, with the specific intent that the statement, made verbally, in writing, or by means of an electronic communication advice, is to be taken as a threat.”

The crime committed is what’s known as a “wobbler,” according to Malibu Assistant City Attorney Trevor Rusin. In other words, a prosecutor or judge can decide whether the crime be considered a misdemeanor or felony.

Current Malibu Mayor Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner and his partner, Candace Brown, were subpoenaed as witnesses for the case in early February, according to documents shared with The Malibu Times

Saladino later pleaded no contest to the charge on Feb. 13, 2019, and was sentenced to 180 days in LA County jail and three years of probation afterward.

In an email to The Malibu Times Tuesday afternoon, March 5, LA County District Attorney’s Office public information officer Ricardo Santiago wrote, “At the time of sentencing, Saladino had already earned 172 days’ credit in jail, so he should be out by now.”

Wagner filed and was approved for a criminal protective order against Saladino. Similar to a restraining order, the protective order ensures the defendant cannot contact or come within 100 yards of the council member.

“In both my terms as [an] elected [official], I have not received anything like that,” Wagner said of the threats in an interview with The Malibu Times. “And, as far as I know, the council hasn’t either.

“It’s just that the homeless issue became such a hot-button topic. He [Saladino] took advantage of that.” 

Meanwhile, the homeless dinners—which were stopped based on a decision made by MUMC and the nonprofit Standing on Stone in late November 2017—resumed in September 2018 at a new location at the old Malibu County Courthouse. According to statements made by council members at the time, homeless dinners were paused in 2017 not due to council requests, but following complaints from nearby neighbors.

After a brief hiatus due to the Woolsey Fire, the dinners were once again moved to the Methodist Church in late December 2018. The program will come before Malibu City Council at its next meeting on Monday, March 11.