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Threat case headed to grand jury

Seven charges against a local farm owner were certified to the grand jury in a preliminary hearing Thursday.

Joseph Vincent Musicaro, 33, faces the charges in connection with accusations by a former employee that he sent her threatening text messages, causing her to fear for her life.

Musicaro is known for owning and running Kay’s Acres on Lummis Road. He was arrested March 26 and arraigned in July.

According to the criminal complaints on file in General District Court, the victim, who also runs a farm in Suffolk, received text messages on Feb. 5 from someone who said they wanted to donate some farming supplies and she needed to come immediately to pick them up. She drove to the area of the address she was given in Bath, N.C., but was not able to find the location. When she returned home, however, she found that one of her pigs, Jimmy Dean, was missing from his pen.

The victim testified on Thursday there was no way he could have gotten out unless someone let him out. The pig was found on her property a couple of days later.

The victim later contacted the number upset that she had driven all that way for nothing, the complaint said. There was no initial response, but then on Feb. 9, she began receiving a string of profanity-laced text messages that lasted until March 10.

Portions of the messages include “They may be on the inside, but we have people on the outside”; “Leave town or die”; “Your goat dies today … so do you”; “Leave Virginia or we kill you and all the animals”; and “Sleep with one eye open.”

When the victim called police, they began an investigation. A Suffolk Police detective testified on Thursday that her investigation led her to AdHoc Labs, the owner of the phone number that sent the threatening messages. AdHoc Labs owns the Burner app, which the detective said allows people to send messages or make calls while disguising their real phone number.

A search warrant turned up the account owner’s real phone number, which turned out to be Musicaro’s, the detective testified. After Musicaro was taken into custody, she called the phone number that the investigation had revealed, and his phone rang on the other end — while sitting on the detective’s desk.

Musicaro’s attorney, Hugh Black III, asked the detective whether she had done any investigation of the other employees at Kay’s Acres, implying that any of them could have picked up Musicaro’s phone and sent those messages. The detective said she did not.

A prosecution witness, a former roommate of Musicaro’s and also one of his former employees, testified that Musicaro had pulled her and a small group of others aside after he got wind of the police investigation and asked them not to talk to police about the messages.

“He had told us all he sent those messages to (the victim),” she testified on Thursday. “I wasn’t aware of the threatening nature of them, but he told us all not to tell if we were asked by the police. I was asked to deny knowledge of them.”

Retired General District Court Judge James Moore, filling in on Thursday, dismissed the grand larceny charge, not finding enough evidence that Musicaro was the one who let Jimmy Dean out. Moore acknowledged, however, that the commonwealth could still seek a direct indictment with the grand jury on that charge.

Judge Moore sent the other seven charges to the grand jury. They are one felony count of communicating a threat in writing and six misdemeanors — entering property with intent to damage, obstruction of justice, stalking causing reasonable fear of death or assault, threaten an illegal act over the telephone, harassment by computer, and using false caller ID with intent to harass.