Adams resident Alexander Ciccolo utters 4 'not guilty' pleas in terror case
SPRINGFIELD— Alexander Ciccolo sat in U.S. District Court on Thursday and confidently proclaimed himself not guilty of being a would-be terrorist.
Ciccolo, 24, of Adams, was arraigned on four counts, two of which are new to the case stemming from his arrest a little over a year ago — providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization and attempting to use weapons of mass destruction.
He already had been charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and illegal weapons possessio.
Ciccolo has been held in custody since his arrest last year while the government built its case against the former peace activist and estranged son of a Boston Police captain.
Judge Katherine Robertson designated the case as "complex," which provides more time for the legal teams to produce and review discovery evidence without that time counting against a defendant's right to a speedy trial.
"We're already in a situation where Mr. Ciccolo has been incarcerated for a year now," she said.
Ciccolo's attorney, David Hoose, said the question of why it took a year to bring new charges was one better put to the government. However, Hoose said, in Massachusetts federal cases, multiple offices including those in Springfield, Boston and Washington have input on how to proceed.
Other than repeating the words "not guilty" four times, Ciccolo — wearing a long beard and traditional taqiyah skullcap — said nothing in court.
If convicted of the most serious charges, Ciccolo faces life in prison.
Hoose said it was too early to discuss whether Ciccolo was prepared to go all the way to trial.
He did say however, "At the date of arraignment, we don't rule anything out."
Robertson, Hoose and assistant U.S. attorneys Deepika Shukla and Kevin O'Regan set the next dates the case.
Prosecutors will have 28 days to produce the next round of discovery evidence and Hoose will have until the end of October to respond.
The government will then have four weeks to respond to that, before the next hearing date of Nov. 28.
Hoose said he may be bringing in another defense attorney to assist with the case, but he did not elaborate or provide any names of potential candidates.
Ciccolo was arrested in Adams on July 4, 2015, after he accepted a small cache of weapons from an FBI informant.
That informant allegedly was in contact with Ciccolo while he concocted a plot to attack a target like a college cafeteria in support of the Islamic State, and to broadcast student executions.
He incurred the assault and battery charge for allegedly stabbing a nurse in the head with a pen during a medical screening as part of his booking process following his arrest.
According to court records, investigators found at least partially constructed Molotov cocktails in Ciccolo's apartment and he had purchased a pressure cooker — similar to those used in the Boston Marathon bombings — before his arrest.
Ciccolo allegedly disclosed plans to pack the cooker with gunpowder, shrapnel and debris, and detonate it.
He has been held at the Donald W. Wyatt detention facility in Rhode Island since his arrest.
Correspondence and phone calls allegedly made and received by Ciccolo while detained there are part of the evidence collected by prosecutors, according to court documents.
Contact Bob Dunn at 413-496-6249.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.