FBI accuses Baysider of threatening bank

FBI accuses Baysider of threatening bank
Photo by Yinghao Luo
By Phil Corso

A Bayside man has denied accusations that he threatened to kill or injure employees of a bank in Pennsylvania, authorities said.

Last week, the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Michael Chung, 52, for allegedly faxing a threatening note to a Sovereign Bank in Pottsvile, Pa. In the note, federal officials said he referred to his Second Amendment rights to justify potentially killing bank employees after he had difficulty selling his Bayside home.

The FBI arrested Chung Aug. 7 after learning of the threatening letter, which federal investigators said was sent out the day before.

In the letter, the FBI said Chung was trying to terminate the roughly $179,000 loan he owed on the home he was trying to sell, at 211-35 23rd Ave. in Bayside.

According to the criminal complaint, law enforcement officials had enough reason to take Chung’s threats seriously as he was also known to have had a shotgun registered in his name.

Chung denied he made such a threat at his arraignment in Brooklyn federal court Aug. 8 and also said he did not own a shotgun. At his arraignment, Judge James Orenstein ordered a psychiatric examination of the Bayside man and also refused Chung’s requests to represent himself.

Chung was ruled a danger to the community and was to be held without bail, court documents said.

According to the FBI, the Bayside man was also arrested because he identified himself as part of a small group known not to believe in obeying government rules or paying taxes.

Known as the sovereign citizen movement, federal investigators have long since considered the group a serious domestic threat, the FBI said.

“The 2nd Amendment to the National Constitution authorized the use of deadly force to protect my interests as a national citizen,” Chung said in the faxed letter to the bank. “I believe I have a basis to act in that manner.”

Chung had tried to sell his Bayside home around May 31, the criminal complaint said, but could not because of a roughly $179,000 home equity loan issued by the Pennsylvania bank.

Chung argued he had submitted the appropriate paperwork to the bank to automatically extinguish all of Sovereign Bank’s interests without the need to repay the loan, the complaint said, to which the bank declined to accept.

“I am in the middle of discussing this matter with your bank attorney and will be visiting him within the next couple days,” Chung said in the letter before making the threat. “No answer from you will be taken to mean that I have the authority to use granted means to make valid the [loan] termination statement that I will be filing with the NYC Register’s office this week.”

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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