More prison time for repeat threat offender
A man with a decades-long history of making phone and mail threats to area stores and pharmacies — some of which came from inside the Ulster County Jail and state prisons — will spend several more years behind bars, the Ulster County District Attorney’s Office said Friday.
Kristofer Surdis, 43, of Glenford, was sentenced Thursday by Ulster County Judge Donald A. Williams to seven years in state prison for one felony count of falsely reporting an incident.
Surdis has a criminal history dating to at least 1989, local authorities have said. In May 2015, an Ulster County sheriff’s detective said most of the bomb threats in the county over the past 30 years had led investigators to Surdis.
On Friday, a spokesman for the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision declined to respond to questions about ways in which repeat offenses might be avoided while Surdis is in prison.
The spokesman confirmed Surdis has been in custody at the Franklin Correctional Facility, a medium-security state prison in Franklin County, for a felony conviction of falsely reporting an incident in Delaware County. That four- to five-year sentence began in July, according to state records.
Surdis’ latest charge stemmed from a May 6 incident when the Hannaford supermarket at Kingston Plaza received a threat via phone from Surdis, who claimed a bomb was about to go off in the store. Police searched the store and did not find any explosives.
Surdis made the threat while an inmate in the Ulster County Jail on an unrelated charge.
In August, Surdis admitted making a threat against the store from a jailhouse phone.
The Freeman’s archive shows Surdis also was:
• Convicted in 1998 of calling in bomb threats to Delaware County businesses.
• Convicted in December 2008 of falsely reporting an incident.
• Charged in May 2015 with calling a bomb threat, from the jail, to the Kingston Plaza Hannaford store.
• Additionally charged in May 2015 with sending a threatening letter to a Margaretville supermarket from the jail.
• Charged again in May 2015 with sending a threatening letter to the Wendy’s fast-food restaurant in the town of Ulster.
In 2000, a state appeals court upheld Surdis’ conviction and sentence of two to four years in state prison for mailing threatening letters to businesses in Ulster and Delaware counties while an inmate in the Sullivan Correctional Facility.
In its November 2005 opinion, the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court, Third Judicial Department, referenced Surdis’ agreement to have his future correspondence and phone conversations monitored by corrections officials “in order to prevent reoccurrence of the conduct which led to the instant conviction.”
Speaking as president of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers about Thursday’s sentence, Ulster County Public Defender Andrew Kossover said, “Unfortunately, our criminal justice system is underresourced and somewhat inadequate when it comes to people with mental health issues.”
Kossover continued, “Of course, people [with mental health issues] who conduct themselves unacceptably and violate the law are deserving of treatment rather than incarceration. ... We tend to warehouse these people, which is a sad reflection of our criminal justice system and the values of our community in general.”
Kossover said the Ulster County Public Defender’s Office stopped representing Surdis “a long time ago” because of threats he made to the defender’s office in Kingston. “This is what he does, I guess,” Kossover said.
According to Kossover, Surdis was represented in the most recent case by a conflict defender from the Dutchess County Public Defender’s Office. In an email, Dutchess County Public Defender Thomas Angell wrote, “We have no comment on this disposition.”