A 22-year-old York man has been charged with 11 federal crimes for allegedly sending phony emails that purported to be from college professors and police officers containing lewd images, racist statements and threats of violence, court records show.

Austin Santoro, of Cider Hill Road in York, was arrested March 29 by an agent from the Department of Homeland Security following an investigation into 36 emails sent between Dec. 21 and Jan. 30 to police officers from Kittery; Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and to educators at Boston University and York County Community College, according to documents unsealed in the U.S. District Court of Maine.

Messages also were sent to members of the York town government and York public schools.

According to court records, Santoro had some connection to most of those he targeted; some appeared to have played a role in a negative episode in his life, including a police officer who arrested him for OUI in 2017 and a college professor who failed him in an online course.

Santoro faces five counts of transmitting threatening interstate communications, two counts of maliciously conveying false information concerning the use of an explosive, and three counts of identity theft. Each count carries a potential penalty of five to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000.

Special Agent Derek Dunn tracked down Santoro by closely examining the email message headers, which contain technical information about where the messages originated and how they were routed.

The Czech website that Santoro used then turned over more detailed records about the 36 messages, which led to Santoro. A search of Santoro’s computer and phone revealed Google searches that appear to correspond with the people and organizations and other corroborating information.

Santoro was held until Tuesday, when he was released on an unsecured bond of $10,000 after a court appearance. He was released on condition that he surrender his passport and not commit any new crimes, submit to medical or psychiatric treatment as directed and take any medications prescribed by a doctor, among other stipulations. It was unclear when he would be back in court.

The email messages contained bomb threats, rape threats, racial slurs and statements supporting white supremacy, according to affidavits submitted by Dunn of the DHS office in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Santoro allegedly used a website based in the Czech Republic that allows users to send email messages that at first glance appear to have been sent from another email account that is selected by a user.

In some cases, the emails purported to be from one police officer to a group of other officers. One message appeared to impersonate the owner of a local business near Santoro’s home, and was sent to police.

“Hi guys,” read the Dec. 26 message to three York police officers from the unnamed business owner, according to court records. “Just wanted to say hello and send some pictures of my penis. One of those days.”

The email contained three images of male genitalia, according to court records.

York police had responded to Santoro’s home on Oct. 5, after Santoro got into an argument with his father and drove away in his mother’s SUV.

In a message that purported to be from Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Merner, the sender said a bomb had been placed in the building.

“Bim bam boom!” the message read. “There’s a bomb in the building! Come find it before it goes off! Thanks, Robert Merner.”

In another message that appeared to have been sent by one Kittery police officer to two others, the sender discussed his hatred for African Americans and Jewish people using slurs.

“Exterminate the mud races! The white race will preservere (sic)!” the message read.

Kittery police had arrested Santoro in July 2017 for operating under the influence.

“All of the emails sent to KPD email addresses purported to come from the KPD officer who had arrested Austin Santoro,” Dunn wrote.

Messages sent to people affiliated with York County Community College were purportedly sent by a professor who had given Santoro a failing grade.

Similar messages were sent to people connected to Boston University, including professors. Santoro was arrested for assaulting his roommate in March of 2016.

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: MattByrnePPH