A Brick Township woman is facing a charge of bias intimidation after allegedly writing racially-charged messages to another person on Facebook, the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office announced Thursday.
Denise Scaltrito, 48, was arrested and charged on Monday. According to an office spokesman, Scaltrito is accused of sending “threatening and offensive messages” to the victim via Facebook Messenger. The messages included the text: “KKK is alive and well in Brick,” and that the victim “should move.” Additional messages included references to the Aryan Brotherhood – a white power prison gang – and “derogatory comments regarding the victim’s race,” the statement said.
“This type of behavior is on the rise, especially on social media,” said Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer. “Individuals that exploit hatred, intolerance and prejudice with a purpose to intimidate will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Under New Jersey statutes, it is illegal to intimidate someone based on their race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin, disability or gender identity. Bias intimidation charges are fluid, meaning the potential penalties change depending on the underlying charge – normally one degree above the connected offense. In the case of a disorderly persons offense such as harassment, for example, bias intimidation would be treated as a fourth degree crime which carries a potential penalty of 18 months in prison.
“The Brick Township Police Department will investigate all allegations of bias intimidation thoroughly,” said Police Chief James Riccio. “This type of language directed at an individual with a purpose to intimidate will not be tolerated.”
Scaltrito was processed at Brick Township Police Headquarters and released on a summons pending a future court date.