Somerville man indicted for racially motivated attacks on MBTA worker

Joseph Balistreri booking photo.
Joseph Balistreri booking photo.

A Somerville man with a violent history of attacking T riders was indicted Friday for a pattern of racially-motivated harassment and threats against an MBTA employee.

Joseph Balistreri, 39, is charged with violation of a permanent injunction, making threats, and criminal harassment, according to Attorney General Martha Coakley.

The Attorney General’s Office previously obtained the injunction against the defendant after he engaged in a racially-motivated verbal and physical attack on two MBTA women in November 2010. Among other requirements, the injunction prohibited the defendant from threatening any person because of his or her race.

Beginning in the summer of 2012 Balistreri allegedly engaged in multiple incidents of bias-motivated threats and harassment against an African-American MBTA employee. All of these incidents occurred at Sullivan Station on the MBTA Orange Line.

“We allege that this defendant has again engaged in bias-motivated conduct – this time harassing and threatening an MBTA employee based on his race,” Coakley said.

“We appreciate the dedicated work of the Attorney General in taking this action to protect our employee,” said MBTA Transit Police Chief Paul MacMillan. “We will continue towork with her to help ensure that neither employees nor customers are subjected to this type of harassment.”

According to authorities, Balistreri initially targeted the MBTA employee after being asked to extinguish his cigarette in a nonsmoking area of Sullivan Station. Balistreri allegedly threatened and harassed the MBTA employee, using racial epithets, on multiple occasions through February 2013 when asked to stop smoking on MBTA property. In March 2013, Balistreri was seen punching a Charlie Card machine. When asked if he needed assistance, Balistreri allegedly verbally assaulted the MBTA employee and threatened him. Authorities allege that one week later Balistreri was observed taking pictures of the MBTA   employee. When the employee confronted him, Balistreri allegedly responded with racial epithets, threatened him and further stated that he and his friends would kill him.

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