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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – The weeks leading up to this Christmas have in no way been merry for Martin Pierro, the South Florida comic publisher who apparently freaked out his local CBS news anchor with an online joke the journalist perceived as a murderous threat.
The 41-year-old Lake Worth, Fla., man had been living in a virtual pressure cooker after he was arrested and charged with intimidation through a written threat to kill or injure WPEC anchorman John Discepolo, despite Pierro’s assertion he was merely clowning with the anchor about his ominous-sounding news teases.
But now, Pierro is having a happy holiday and can breathe easily into the new year as the criminal charges against him have just been dropped.
“I received a call from my attorney,” said Pierro. “Trust me, when a lawyer calls, your heart tends to sink a bit. So considering all that is going on it’s fair to say that I was worried. I asked her how she was doing, she said fine ‘but not as good as you.’
“I immediately knew what she was getting at – she told me that I was going to have a Merry Christmas after all. She informed me that the charges against me had been dropped. I was nothing short of ecstatic.”
Pierro had heard rumblings the charges were going to be dismissed, but the call from his attorney was the first official confirmation.
As WND reported earlier this month, the strange scenario of the cartoonist vs. newsman actually began Oct. 23 when Discepolo promoted that day’s afternoon newscast with this tweet: “cbs 12 wants to keep you and your money safe! So what does moving have to do with it? The new scam we uncovered … next at 5.”
That prompted Pierro, a comic-book publisher at Cosmic Times, to send Discepolo a message stating: “Someone is hiding in your house waiting to kill you … find out where … tonight at 11.”
Discepolo responded by writing: “Not something to joke about … not cool.”
The conversation between the two concluded with Pierro assuring the anchor he was just kidding.
“Oh come on that’s an old school broadcasters joke. I was just poking fun at your ‘teases’ for the nightly news,” he wrote.
When questioned by investigators, Pierro affirmed his remark was only a joke, and that he never intended to harm the newsman.
However, Discepolo, who formerly worked for KOMO in Seattle as well as WCBS and WNYW in New York City, reportedly said he was concerned for his family’s safety and wanted to press charges.
Pierro was booked into the Palm Beach County jail Dec. 6 and released the next day on $5,000 bail.
At the time, he said he was being “railroaded” and called his legal battle “one I never thought I would have to deal with in a million years and one that no doubt will cost me thousands upon thousands of dollars.”
Now that he won’t have to endure that fight, Pierro is voicing his reaction:
“Did the charges being dropped make up for the anguish and hardship my family has suffered these last few weeks? No. Did the charges being dropped make up for the embarrassment I felt being arrested in front of my home? No. Did the charges being dropped replace the money I have spent dealing with this matter? No. Do I feel any ill will towards Mr. Discepolo or Channel 12? No.”
Neither Discepolo nor his news director, Cathy Younkin, responded to a WND request for comment, but Discepolo did return to the original Twitter thread to respond to a viewer who called him “pretty pathetic,” asking the anchor: “Do you really see this as a good use of our money? No need to wait until 5 to know I don’t.”
Discepolo misspelled the word “moot” as he wrote that viewer Dec. 23: “Things are rarely that cut and dry, two sides to every story. Mute point now, charges have been dropped as of Friday.”
Hundreds of readers have been verbally hammering Discepolo for what they perceive to be his inability to take a joke.
“I don’t see the threat. He did not threaten anyone! The news guy is a wuss,” said Tracy Brock Ash.
“This reporter needs to have his estrogen levels checked. What a mangina!” exclaimed WND reader John Freeman. He reminds me of the jerk in class everybody hated in high school. Why don’t he take his ball and run home to mommy? Maybe she can kiss his boo boo and make it all better. What a jerk!”
“His wife should’ve married a man,” added Robert Ralph.
Another addressed the reporter directly, saying: “Discepolo, remember many folks are probably flipping you the bird, but don’t worry – it’s not loaded.”
Others, such as Paul Rodgers, have a different take, siding with the anchorman.
“It was a foolish comment to make,” Rogers explained.
“Yes, many people would see it as a joke. But some of us work in jobs where we interact with the public and some of those people take their ‘opinions’ to the extreme. I have been in situations where I had one hand on my concealed carry as I watched discussions between employees and very irate and unreasonable customers play out. I would never assume that a comment like that was a joke and I would have contacted the authorities. That said, if this news anchor did understand it as a joke then his vindictiveness is not warranted.”
It is unclear if public pressure played any role in the decision to have the charges dismissed.
Pierro has now seen Discepolo’s follow-up post on Twitter, and agrees with him about there being two sides to every story.
“We all see the world through our own filters and just because I can’t see things from his perspective doesn’t make him a bad person or someone to hate,” Pierro said.
“This is Christmas time, a time for joy, understanding and forgiveness. Any anger I felt towards Mr. Discepolo has melted away, I see no reason to carry hate in my heart during this festive time of year and want to start the New Year off on a truly positive note. I sincerely hope that if Mr. Discepolo ever reads this … that he knows I wish him and his family nothing but the best and I hope that they have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”
Pierro’s friend Joseph McMaster reacted to the news of the charges being dropped by saying, “So the lynch mob, burning torches and general anarchy in the city streets is canceled? Darn it! Merry Christmas!”