January 9, 2012

Man arrested after death threat against Oakdale mayor

A former Oakdale resident is in custody at the Stanislaus County Jail after making death threats against Mayor Pat Paul. He allegedly sent an e-mail to the city expressing disapproval of its part in the displacement of an elderly man.

A former Oakdale resident is in the Stanislaus County Jail on suspicion of making death threats against Oakdale Mayor Pat Paul.

Oakdale police had been looking for the man since late December after Paul received an e-mail expressing disapproval about the city's role in the displacement of an elderly man.

Jonathan Pitts, 41, was arrested Thursday by San Francisco police. A former Oakdale resident, he had been living in San Francisco for several years, most recently at the upscale Drake Hotel in Union Square.

"He was making threats to kill the mayor based on erroneous information," Oakdale Police Chief Marty West said.

Paul said she knew Pitts and his family and that he had transferred from Oakdale High to Beyer High in Modesto, where she taught.

She said she does not recall Pitts as one of her former students but does remember giving him a ride home on occasion. She believes the last time she saw Pitts was in 1988 when he was a high school senior.

"This is just a sad situation," Paul said. "I hope he gets some help."

In the e-mail dated Dec. 30, Pitts allegedly wrote: "I have just issued a death threat against the mayor of a small California, agricultural redneck s***head place where I grew up."

He goes on to say that the city was responsible for the foreclosure of a home owned by a 98-year-old man.

Paul contacted the homeowner. She found that he was still living in his home and that it was not in foreclosure.

The e-mail went on to say the writer would hold the mayor "accountable" and advising her "to quit office," then closed by saying, "I shall become the best friend you will ever have, or I am going to work to become your worst nightmare."

The name "John Stone" was in the e-mail, but detectives traced the e-mail address to Pitts.

After his arrest Thursday, Pitts was driven to Stanislaus County and booked on suspicion of making terrorist threats against an elected official.

Bee staff writer Kevin Valine contributed to this report.

Bee staff writer Erin Tracy can be reached at or (209) 578-2366.

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