FBI arrests Riverhead man for threatening witness in 2015 homicide case

The FBI has charged a Riverhead man who allegedly threatened to kill a criminal informant in a 2015 Flanders homicide case, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court Wednesday.

The FBI also alleges the man made threats to the Suffolk County District Attorney and a U.S. Marshal in a message left on a voicemail in a federal judge’s chambers, records show.

Nicholas Sokol, 28, pleaded not guilty to a charge of witness tampering in the case that involves several alleged members of the Bloods gang. He was ordered held without bond following his initial appearance Wednesday.

In a sworn affidavit, a special agent with the FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force said Mr. Sokol showed up at the former home of a cooperating witness in the 2015 murder of Thomas Lacolla and said he was going to kill the witness and “shoot up the whole house” on Aug. 7.

“Snitches are going to die,” Mr. Sokol allegedly told a person at the house, where the witness lived before being incarcerated.

Nicholas Sokol in a 2015 police mug shot.

Mr. Sokol was linked to the incident after investigators caught a partial license plate on a surveillance video and a witness to the threat pointed him out in a photo array. The FBI said Mr. Sokol has been involved in a relationship with the sister of the alleged head of the local chapter of the Bloods gang, who has also been charged in connection with the 2015 slaying.

In the early morning hours Sunday, a voicemail was recorded in the chambers of U.S. District Court Judge Joanna Seybert leaving Mr. Sokol’s name and making a threat directed at Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini and U.S. Marshal and former Suffolk County Sheriff Vincent DeMarco. Minutes later, a second message was left for a member of the judge’s staff in which the caller threatened to murder, “chop up” and “eat” an individual whose name was redacted from the complaint. The second call was traced back to a telephone found in Mr. Sokol’s vehicle during a traffic stop initiated on the Long Island Expressway in Holtsville as part of the investigation Tuesday.

At the time of his arrest, investigators said Mr. Sokol told them he’s loyal to Jimmy Dean, the local gang leader facing racketeering charges in connection with the 2015 murder. “He’s my brother,” he allegedly told law enforcement.

Mr. Sokol was previously charged in a 2015 domestic incident in which he stabbed his girlfriend.