Former Utica College student Fahrudin Omerovic has been offered a plea deal of 10 years in state prison for the terroristic threats that led to a campus-wide evacuation.
Omerovic considered the telephone calls a “prank,” according to his defense attorney.
“This is a person who thought he was engaged in a simple prank, nothing more than that,” attorney John Raspante said in County Court this morning. He added that he expected a severe plea offer due to the high profile nature of the case.
“I expected a message needed to be sent,” Raspante stated.
Omerovic, 23, of Utica, pleaded not guilty before County Court Judge Michael L. Dwyer this morning on two counts of felony making a terroristic threat. He is scheduled to return to court on Thursday to decide whether or not to take the 10-year plea deal offered by the District Attorney’s Office.
Authorities said on March 5, Omerovic made several telephone calls to the county 9-1-1 Center threatening violence at Utica College. The campus was placed on lockdown and hundreds of law enforcement officers conducted a thorough sweep and evacuation, which lasted several hours, frightening students and staff.
The following day, authorities said Omerovic repeated the threats. Authorities said there was no indication that Omerovic planned to carry out his threats.
Raspante said his client has admitted to making the telephone calls and is aware of the serious nature of what happened.
“He is devastated” that his “prank” caused such a wide response, Raspante said. “It’s not funny.”
Raspante said Omerovic was a “lonely” college student making good grades and working three jobs to help support his family. Raspante suggested that the loneliness, with little social life and few friends, may have motivated Omerovic to make the prank phone calls.
“Can justice be served without ruining this young man’s life?” Raspante asked.
Omerovic is also charged in Utica City Court with second-degree identity theft for using another man’s credit card to purchase two vacuum cleaners in early March. The vacuum cleaner case has not yet been presented to a grand jury for possible indictment. Raspante said the 10-year plea offer would cover the identity theft charges as well.