A New York woman had just broken up with her boyfriend when authorities got an anonymous tip about her — and initially, the tip seemed to be accurate.
A tipster sent an email Oct. 31 to staff at State University College at Geneseo warning them that the woman was buying cocaine online. The tip suggested the illegal drugs would soon arrive at her university mailing address, according to court records.
Days later, on Nov. 2, a package arrived for the woman, just as the tipster had predicted. University staff intercepted it, and inside the package the local sheriff’s office found 1.4 grams of cocaine — again, just as the tip had promised.
But the woman who received the package at the upstate New York university said she hadn’t ordered the drugs, court records said. A search of her room didn’t turn up any drugs or drug paraphernalia.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
The woman did, however, say she had an idea who might have sent it: her “controlling” 23-year-old ex-boyfriend, Thomas Traficante. He knew her address from sending her flowers and other small gifts before their less-than-amicable breakup, she said. The pair had broken up on Oct. 26, she told authorities, a handful of days before the drugs arrived.
By the time Traficante was arrested Dec. 21, his ex-girlfriend had suffered through far more than that one anonymous tip. Over the course of two months, he’d hacked into her Snapchat account, sent drugs to her two additional times and used her Amazon account to send her a book about stalking called “I’m Watching You,” according to court documents.
Traficante even logged into the website his ex-girlfriend used to take quizzes for her college chemistry class, submitting the assessments with all incorrect answers so she would get zeros, according to the criminal complaint filed against him by the FBI.
And she wasn’t the only victim. Traficante also harassed his ex-girlfriend’s family and tormented her sorority sisters with menacing texts, according to court documents.
Traficante, a resident of Seaford, N.Y., pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of cyberstalking and distribution of a controlled substance in a Rochester federal court, the Democrat and Chronicle reports. Under his plea agreement, Traficante faces up to three years in prison, and will be sentenced later this year.
“Mr. Traficante made a decision to accept responsibility for what he did,” his attorney, Ray Perini, told Newsday. “He is ready to accept his punishment.”
Texting conversations between the former couple, who met on an online dating app in May 2017, reveal how controlling Traficante was — and that, in his own estimation, he was a master of manipulation.
“Well you wouldn’t be able to tell if I was manipulating you,” Traficante told his then-girlfriend at one point by text, according to court records. “That’s the point of manipulation. It’s secretly getting someone to do something you want them to do.”
While they were dating, Traficante even texted her about campaigns of manipulation and harassment he had carried out with a previous girlfriend, according to court records. He told her he had posted that previous girlfriend’s contact information on a prostitution site so she would get calls from strangers asking for sex, court records said.
Then he followed up by saying he wouldn’t do that to the current girlfriend — probably.
“Welllllll it won’t happen UNLESS you do some s--t that I strongly disagree with,” Traficante texted, according to the complaint. “And you’d probably be harder to manipulate than most people but it probably wouldn’t be TOO difficult.”
Traficante wasn’t above recycling the prostitution ad trick, it turned out.
On Nov. 16, early in the morning less than a month after the breakup, his new victim started to get phone calls, FaceTime calls and texts from strangers requesting sex. She was inundated with about 60 in total. University police found an ad on the sex site Backpage.com listing her phone number, court records said.
Earlier in the month, members of the victim’s sorority also began to get ominous texts from a number they didn’t recognize, court records said.
One message, on Nov. 10, read: “its not safe out there tonight,” accompanied by the name of the sorority.
On Nov. 20, Traficante used a BB gun to shoot at his ex-girlfriend’s parents’ house on Long Island, not far from Traficante’s home, court records said. Police interviewed him after the incident and he denied involvement. They told Traficante not to contact the ex-girlfriend.
But the stalking continued, court records indicate.
Even when the victim changed her phone number, she couldn’t seem to get away: “your all crazy if you think I’m not still out there,” Traficante texted to his ex-girlfriend’s new contact information on Dec. 2, the complaint said.
The same day, Traficante called one of his ex-girlfriend’s housemate’s and left a message, with his voice disguised.
“I’m in the house,” he said, according to court records.
Traficante was arrested at his mother’s house in December, Newsday reports. Police found a loaded AR-15 in his possession.