South Bay teacher charged with threatening health official

Bay Area

SANTA CLARA COUNTY (KRON) — A South Bay community college teacher was charged with threatening a public health official and stalking, according to Santa Clara County prosecutors.

They say 55-year-old Alan Viarengo sent nearly two dozen threatening letters voicing his concerns about COVID-19 restrictions over the course of four months.

The Santa Clara County Public Health Officer, Dr. Sara Cody, told authorities she was receiving “irate and profane letters, emails and phone calls” soon after signing a shelter-in-place order for the county in March this year.

Security officers assigned to Cody collected and vetted these letters over several months and positively identified a fingerprint on two of them, the sheriff’s office said. The fingerprint on both letters allegedly belonged to 55-year-old Alan Viarengo, according to the sheriff’s office.

Officials said these letters also indicated a connection to the “Boogaloo Movement, a loosely organized American far-right-wing extremist group known for their anti-government, anti-police and pro-gun beliefs.”

However, Dennis Luca, Viarengo’s attorney says his client is not a member of any extremist organization.

“My client has been a resident of this community for more than 20 years. He is a teacher. He is a firearms instructor. He is well respected in the community and poses no threat to Miss Cody or anyone else,” Luca said.

Luca says he believes all the firearms found are lawfully registered and that his client was exercising his right to free speech, though he admits he hasn’t seen the letters and doesn’t know if Viarengo crossed the line.

Viarengo was arrested at his Gilroy residence on August 27, where detectives said they found 138 firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition, and explosive materials.

Law officials say they’re also investigating letters Viarengo allegedly sent to three other local officials as well as the wife of Damon Gutzwiller, the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Sgt. who was gunned down by another man alleged to have ties to the Boogaloo movement.

“It’s quite disgusting, the verbiage he used was something to the effect he wished more law enforcement had died,” said Lt. Brendan Omori with the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office.

Viarengo remains in jail, but his attorney says he’ll seek a bail hearing in the next several days.

Anyone with information on this case can contact the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office at (408) 808-4500.

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