Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP) – A California property manager was sentenced to a year in federal prison for sending more than 200 vile online messages to the father of a teenage girl who died in the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.
James Catalano, 62, of Fresno, was sentenced Friday by U.S. District Judge Robert Scola in Miami after pleading guilty in March to cyberstalking. Prosecutors called the messages sent by Fred Guttenberg “cruel and cruel.”
Gutenberg’s 14-year-old daughter, Jaime Gutenberg, was killed February 14, 2018, shooting 14 students and three staff members were killed in Parkland. Catalano also received three years of probation and must undergo mental health treatment.
Catalano sent Gutenberg messages over an eight-month period beginning in December 2021 that celebrated Jaime Gutenberg’s death and revealed the trauma he suffered. He mocks Gutenberg’s grief and loss and directs obscenities, abuse, and sickening insults at him and his daughter.
Catalano investigators said he was angry at Gutenberg for her Outspoken advocacy For stronger gun laws since his daughter’s death. He told them he believed Gutenberg was using his daughter’s death to “push his political agenda” and was “trying to check (Gutenberg) by sending him messages.”
“By his own admission, the defendant disagreed with the victim’s political views and was motivated to push the victim and send him lewd messages,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Ariel Klepach wrote in court documents. “He capitalized on the victim’s grief and the gruesome nature of his daughter’s death to silence her.”
He wrote that Catalano had sent similar messages to others, but was not charged in that case.
Guttenberg said Monday that the sentence is “a big deal” and sends a message to those who cyberstalk the families of the shooting victims that they will be caught and punished. He said Judge Scola agreed that while none of the messages contained a direct threat, they constituted one as a whole.
Attorneys for Catalano did not immediately return a call Monday seeking comment.
The former student who killed Jaime Gutenberg and others is serving a life sentence.