AIDS Activists Hit with More Felonies for Phone Calls;
Outrageous Bail Increased to $600,000

15 Dec. 2001

SF District Attorney Works with UCSF FBI Informants to Pile on Charges Against Jailed AIDS Protestors

San Francisco -- On Friday, December 14, 2001, one of two AIDS activists presently jailed for his alleged participation in a political phone, fax, and email zap to oppose quarantine plans for HIV positive gay men was hauled out of his preliminary hearing in one courtroom and charged in another with nine more counts of criminal threats and harassment - four felonies and five misdemeanors.

The bail for ACT UP phone protestor David Pasquarelli - already shockingly high and provoking public outrage at an unprecedented $500,000 was increased by a Superior Court Judge at the request of Assistant District Attorney Machaela Hoctor.

Supporters of the two activists who packed the courtroom were appalled and gasped in disbelief over the decision to make the bail more punitive.

Attorneys for the protestors say they fully expect Pasquarelli's codefendant, long time gay activist Michael Petrelis, will be similarly persecuted. The two are scheduled to remain in custody until the conclusion of their preliminary hearing set for January 23rd at 10:30 am in Superior Court Judge Perker Meeks' Department 28 courtroom.

The activists are hopeful that a newly formed bail fund by friends and family - called The Direct Action Civil Liberties Fund - will collect the necessary money to ensure their release as quickly as possible.

"This is an unconscionable witch hunt against AIDS critics and accountability activists," charged Petrelis who is 42 and suffers from AIDS. "Plain and simple, its prosecutorial misconduct by the powers that be to silence us and imprison us to destroy our health."

Supporters say they are increasingly concerned by jail house reports that Petrelis' health is deteriorating rapidly under the sever stress of incarceration.

On December 8, 2001, Petrelis was rushed to the prison medical unit and ordered by a judge to receive immediate treatment for a dangerous esophageal fungal infection. The AIDS protestor's T-cells have plummeted to an all time low of 74 and a serious skin condition now covers 60% of his body.

Friday's additional felonies stem from the same spate of phone calls, faxes, and emails allegedly received at all hours of the day and night by public health officials, prominent medical reporters, and federally funded AIDS researchers.

According to documents filed in court, activists were upset about anti-gay studies, profane and pornographic programs targeting homosexual men, rampant AIDS corruption, and frightening calls to quarantine HIV positive gay men by SF sexually transmitted disease control unit chief Dr. Jeffrey Klausner.

The new charges filed by District Attorney Terence Hallinan's office involve accusers employed by the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) AIDS Research Institute. It is estimated that UCSF receives in excess of $50 million annually in federal funds to conduct AIDS related experiments on gay men.

Listed on the new complaint are UCSF employees Steven Morin, Thomas Coates and Jeff Sheehy. Morin previously served as a 10 year legislative assistant to minority whip Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D - San Francisco). Sheehy was the immediate past president of the Harvey Mild Gay and Lesbian Democratic Club. He also worked as a staff member in the San Francisco District Attorney's office.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Morin and his colleagues met with and urged the FBI to prosecute the two activists under domestic terrorism provisions of the newly approved USA PATRIOT Act for the harassing and obscene phone calls they allegedly made. The FBI declined UCSF's request to investigate the matter further or charge the activists.

"Harvey Milk would be aghast if he were alive to learn that this city's supposed progressive gay politicos are conspiring with the FBI to muzzle political protestors," commented David Pasquarelli from his cell at County Jail Eight. "This is the unfortunate result when AIDS corruzaption overpowers our mainstream gay leadership. The civil liberties of critics go straight out the window."

Contact: Michael Bellefountaine (415) 864-6686
Todd Swindell (415) 637-HOMO

For more information on the Direct Action Civil Liberties Fund, or to make a donation, please contact:

The Direct Action Civil Liberties Fund
100 First Street
Suite 100-101
San Francisco, CA 94105


You can send letters of support to David and Michael at:

David Pasquarelli
Jail # 2018973
425 7th Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

Michael Petrelis
Jail # 2018960
425 7th Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

ACT UP San Francisco
1884 Market Street * San Francisco, California 94102
Phone: (415) 864-6686 * Fax: (415) 864-6687 *