UTICA – Fahrudin Omerovic, 23, must now decide whether to head to state prison for 10 years or take his chances on a trial.
Omerovic was arraigned on Friday on two felony counts of making a terroristic threat.
Police say on March 5-6, Omerovic called in threats saying he had a gun and was in a building somewhere on campus. Police say Omerovic used a phone app to disguise his voice each time and used a technique to block his number so even the authorities couldn't trace his number.
Those calls led to wide-spread panic on the entire Utica College Campus on Monday, March 5 as armored police went from building to building evacuating students and staff, not knowing which building the potential gunman was in.
After it was all over, Omerovic was actually seen on someone's cell phone video sitting along with other students as police continued to look for a suspect, whom at the time they didn't know who they were looking for.
Friday morning Omerovic pleaded not guilty to making terroristic threats, but it was announced in court that the district attorney's office has presented Omerovic with a plea offer and now has until next Thursday to decide whether to accept it or go to trial.
Omerovic's defense attorney John Raspante revealed what that plea offer is afterward, "The offer is 10 years in state prison and we know that with each count, he faces a minimum of two years to seven years. I was expecting a large number, not that I'm in agreement with it, but with the high profile nature of this case I expected a message needs to be sent. My client acknowledges that this is a reprehensible act. At the time he considered it a prank, that's what we're dealing with. And something I want to see occur, I'm going to ask for what's called a pre-plea investigation, because I think there's certain things that might be helpful to the district attorney's Office and to the court."
Raspante says he wants the district attorney's office to know more about Fahrudin Omerovic, the person. Raspante says Omerovic was an honors student at Utica College, and at the same time worked three jobs to help take care of his parents, whom he says are disabled, along and with a 12 year old sister.
Raspante is hoping to get the plea offer reduced from ten years, but Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara says the plea offer of 10 years in state prison is the only offer Omerovic will get and if he doesn't accept the offer he faces up to 14 years if he is convicted at trial, "In this case there’s a message that needs to be sent, and that’s our intent."
McNamara believes this case will send and may already have sent a clear message to young people who may consider making terroristic threats, "Prior to his arrest it seems like every day we were getting one of these threats, but now it stopped. And honestly you know sometimes with what we do for a living we send messages and hopefully his will be a loud and clear message that this is not going to be tolerated we do not take this lightly. And obviously in this case, we're talking about two separate days back to back, and that's just our position."
If convicted at a trial on the two counts of making a terroristic threat, Omerovic could face a maximum of 14 years in state prison.
Omerovic is due back in Oneida County Court next Thursday, April 26 to announce whether he'll take the deal or head to trial.
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