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Venezuelan arrested for threatening calls after Sandy Hook massacre

(Reuters) - A Venezuelan man suspected of having made dozens of threatening phone calls in the aftermath of the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, claiming he was the shooter, appeared in federal court on Monday after being arrested over the weekend, authorities said.

Wilfrido Cardenas Hoffman, 30, was arrested while in transit through Miami International Airport, the U.S. attorney's office in Connecticut and the FBI said in a statement.

Hoffman made 96 calls to Newtown, Connecticut-area residents within two days after Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 children and six adults at the school before killing himself in December 2012, the unsealed complaint said.

"This is Adam Lanza. I’m gonna [expletive] kill you. You’re dead. You’re dead. You hear me? You’re dead," investigators say Hoffman said during one of the calls.

Hoffman was en route to Mexico from Venezuela at the time of the arrest and appeared in federal court in Florida on Monday.

Officials interviewed four of the people called by the number believed to belong to Hoffman, and all said they had received menacing messages, according to the complaint.

"Threatening such vulnerable people is reprehensible and inhuman criminal conduct. Further, it inappropriately stressed law enforcement resources at a critically demanding time," Deirdre Daly, the U.S. attorney for Connecticut, said in the statement.

The calls were made via an iPod using an online telephone service and were either made from or routed through Venezuela, the complaint said.

Hoffman, of El Hatillo, Venezuela was charged with transmitting threats and faces up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000. He is scheduled to return to court on Thursday for a detention hearing.

His attorneys were not immediately available for comment.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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