By Sara-Megan Walsh
A Nesconset man was arrested for allegedly making a terroristic threat against a campaign worker at U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin’s (R-Shirley) headquarters last July 6, according to Suffolk County police.
Martin Astrof was arrested Friday after he allegedly threatened to kill one of Zeldin’s supporters and supporters of President Donald Trump (R). Astrof went to Zeldin’s campaign headquarters on Terry Road in Smithtown and became irate with a campaign worker, identified by Zeldin’s office as Donato Panico, at approximately 11:15 a.m., police said. After allegedly threatening to kill Panico and other supporters, Astrof backed his car up in an aggressive manner nearly striking the worker, according to police.
“Donato Panic is an exceptional citizen who has dedicated his life to serving our law enforcement and nation’s veterans,” Zeldin said in a statement. “He should never have been targeted like this today for his support of a political candidate.”
Astrof, 75, allegedly fled the scene and was arrested a short time later in front of his home in Nesconset. He was charged with one felony-count of making a terrorist threat and one count of second-degree reckless endangerment.
“In the United States of America, political scores are settled at the ballot box, not by trying to kill your political opponents,” Zeldin said. “It is unacceptable to resort to actions to kill or seriously harm political opponents or otherwise incite those violent actions by others. It must stop now.”
The congressman said he himself has received several death threats, and his wife and children have been targeted as well since the last presidential election in 2016.
Astrof was arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip July 7 and released after posting bail in the amount of $25,000 bond. A temporary order of protection was issued by Suffolk County police.