A California property manager, James Catalano, 62, has been sentenced to a year in federal prison for cyberstalking Fred Guttenberg, the father of a teenage girl who died in the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida. Catalano pleaded guilty to the charge of cyberstalking in March and was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert Scola in Miami on Friday, October 20.
Prosecutors described the more than 200 messages sent by Catalano to Guttenberg as “callous and cruel.” The messages, which were sent over an eight-month period starting in December 2021, celebrated the death of Guttenberg’s daughter, Jaime Guttenberg, and reveled in the wounds she suffered. Catalano also directed obscenities, slurs, and disturbing insults towards Guttenberg and his daughter.
Catalano admitted to investigators that he was motivated to stalk Guttenberg and send him these heinous messages because he disagreed with Guttenberg’s political views. He believed Guttenberg was using his daughter’s death to push a political agenda and wanted to silence him. Assistant U.S. Attorney Arielle Klepach stated that Catalano capitalized on Guttenberg’s grief and the horrific nature of his daughter’s death.
In addition to the prison sentence, Catalano has been ordered to serve three years of probation and undergo mental health treatment. While Catalano sent similar messages to others, he has not been charged in those cases.
Fred Guttenberg expressed satisfaction with the sentence, stating that it sends a message to those who cyberstalk the families of shooting victims that they will be caught and punished. Judge Scola agreed that although none of the messages contained a direct threat, their cumulative effect constituted one.
The former student who carried out the Parkland shooting, including the murder of Jaime Guttenberg, is currently serving a life sentence.