Pawcatuck man charged with threatening judge in grocery store

A Pawcatuck man appeared in New London Superior Court Tuesday to face a charge that he threatened Superior Court Judge John J. Nazzaro during an incident last month in the self-checkout lane of the local Stop & Shop grocery store.

Justin N. Lanoie, 43, of 58 Stewart Road was charged June 23 with second-degree threatening.

Nazzaro, who lives in Pawcatuck, was behind Lanoie in the self-checkout lane with his daughter when Lanoie, who was with his son, attempted unsuccessfully to scan trash bags and toilet paper, according to Lanoie’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Jennifer B. Nowak.

Nazzaro asked Lanoie if he needed help, Nowak said, before apparently thinking that Lanoie was attempting to steal the items. He then identified himself as a judge and told Lanoie that people go to jail for shoplifting, Nowak said.

Lanoie allegedly responded by saying, “Snitches like you end up in cemeteries.”

Nazzaro reported the incident to Stonington police, who arrested Lanoie at his home.

Nowak said Lanoie, a single father who has no criminal history, would be applying for accelerated rehabilitation, a pretrial diversionary program that would enable him to get a full dismissal if he stays out of trouble.

Attorney Michael E. Kennedy, the supervisory prosecutor at the Broad Street courthouse where Lanoie’s case is being heard, is requesting that the case be transferred to Middlesex Superior Court. He declined to comment.

Nazzaro, who practiced law locally before being appointed to the bench in 2007, presided over criminal cases at the New London courthouse, known as Geographical Area 10 or G.A. 10, from September 2012 to April 2013.

He is now hearing civil cases in New Haven Superior Court.

Nowak, the public defender, said she would oppose the motion to transfer the case at Lanoie’s next court appearance, which is scheduled for Aug. 7. She declined to comment further.

k.florin@theday.com

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