Judge denies release of Shickshinny-area man facing weapons charges

By Jerry Lynott - [email protected]
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WILKES-BARRE — A federal magistrate Wednesday ordered the continued detention of John “Jake” Hasay out of concern the Shickshinny-area man facing weapons charges promised to commit a hate crime and posed a danger to others.

During a 90-minute hearing, an attorney for the 21-year-old Hasay sought his release from federal custody so he could live with his parents and attend out-patient mental health treatment and receive drug and alcohol counseling as a plea deal nears on charges he had an unlicensed machine gun.

But U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph Saporito Jr. noted the trail of disturbing social media posts left by Hasay containing Confederate and Nazi flags, white supremacy references and photos of him with a gun in his mouth and pointed at his crotch.

“I’m very much concerned what will happen if I were to release you,” Saporito said.

Hasay was arrested in August after the FBI was made aware of his postings and charged him with felony charges of possession of a machine gun and possession of an unregistered firearm. Documents that federal authorities filed to support the government’s case have been sealed. However, some details were disclosed in open court at the hearing.

Saporito referenced a hand-printed suicide note by Hasay on the letterhead of the U.S. Navy training center in Great Lakes, Ill., where he spent three months in boot camp before being medically discharged in June.

In it Hasay wrote, “I’ll have you know as soon as I get out this prison I will commit a hate crime.”

‘Asperger qualities’

The note was more for a “shock effect” to get attention, Dr. Richard Fischbein testified. Fischbein, a forensic psychologist, said he interviewed Hasay at First Hospital in Kingston last month. Hasay spent nine days at the hospital for in-patient psychiatric treatment after his arrest and was discharged Sept. 24.

Based on his examination of Hasay, there was no indication he intended to commit suicide or commit any violent act, Fischbein told Assistant U.S. Attorney Phillip Caraballo, the prosecutor in this case.

To the contrary, Hasay had no history of violence and Fischbein said, “The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.”

Fischbein said Hasay was diagnosed with depression disorder, had an obsessive component in his personality and abused alcohol and marijuana. Although he was not dependent on alcohol or marijuana, they acted as a “disinhibitor” that “tends to take the lid off” and could explain some of his behavior, Fischbein said.

Hasay also had some “Asperger qualities” within the autism spectrum, Fischbein said. People who have those qualities tend to be a socially awkward, a bit nerdy and don’t have an understanding of the consequences of their actions.

Defense attorney Al Flora Jr. called Hasay’s father, John, a retired district judge, and the younger Hasay’s uncle, retired Washington, D.C., police Capt. Jeffrey Herold, as character witnesses. They said they had never seen the younger Hasay display any signs of racism, bigotry or anti-Semitism.

The father said his son, like him, grew up around firearms and estimated there were more than 50 guns in the household. “He probably knows more about guns than anybody in this room,” Hasay said of his son.

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By Jerry Lynott

[email protected]

Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.

Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.