Exclusive-Ex-tabloid publisher David Pecker, witness at Trump trial, a 'swatting' target

Former U.S. President Trump's criminal trial on charges of falsifying business records continues in New York

By Alexandra Ulmer

(Reuters) - Former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker, who testified at Donald Trump's criminal trial last month, was targeted in a fake emergency the same day he took the stand in New York, according to police records seen by Reuters.

The previously unreported April 25 "swatting" incident, or filing of a false report to trigger a potentially dangerous response, is one in a wave of violent threats against U.S. officials and other public figures in recent years.

A person using the name "Jamal" claimed in an email to a local newspaper that he had tied up his wife in the basement and killed his wife's lover. Jamal gave the address of the crime as Pecker's home in Greenwich, Connecticut.

"I fucked up really bad," Jamal wrote. "Please help me."

The incident report by the Greenwich Police Department said when police were alerted to the email they were already aware of Pecker's home address due to his "being involved in a highly publicized trial."

"A check ... revealed no emergency," said the report, which was seen by Reuters through a records request. "The email was likely a swatting by proxy attempt." Reuters was unable to confirm whether any arrests were made.

It appeared to be the first report of a swatting attempt against someone testifying in the Republican presidential candidate's 12-day-old hush money trial.

On the day of the swatting attempt, Pecker testified that he wrangled with Trump and his former lawyer ahead of the 2016 presidential election over who should buy the silence of women who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.

It does not appear that Pecker was home at the time of the incident, which the police report put at 4:44 p.m. Another unnamed resident was home, according to the report.

Elkan Abramowitz, a lawyer for Pecker, declined to comment.

Reuters reviewed several emergency calls to authorities of hoax calls across the U.S. from a person identified only as "Jamal" who called police to say he had killed his wife.

The hoax email "Jamal" sent about Pecker's home came from the address nobody@dizum.com, the Greenwich police report said, describing the email address as untraceable.

(Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer, Editing by Ross Colvin and Howard Goller)