By Pete Williams Justice correspondent
NBC News
updated 4/7/2010 9:46:22 PM ET 2010-04-08T01:46:22

The FBI has arrested a California man accused of making harassing and obscene phone calls to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over her support for the recently passed health care bill.

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Gregory Lee Giusti, 48, was arrested Wednesday at his San Francisco home, said Joseph Schadler, spokesman for the FBI's San Francisco office. Schadler would not disclose the charges against Giusti, saying they were under seal until his first appearance before a federal magistrate, scheduled for Thursday.

But a federal official said he will be charged with violating a federal law against making calls "to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person at the called number or who receives the communications."

The charge carries a maximum two-year sentence.

Several federal officials said Giusti made dozens of calls to Pelosi's homes in California and Washington, as well as to her husband's business office. They said he recited her home address and said if she wanted to see it again, she would not support the health care overhaul bill that since has been enacted.

One official said the man is believed to have spoken directly with Pelosi at least once.

"The calls were so numerous, the decision was made that something had to be done," one official told NBC News.

Giusti has been in trouble previously for making threats. In 2004, he pleaded no contest in San Mateo County, just south of San Francisco, to a felony charge of making criminal threats and was sentenced to a year in jail and three years of supervised probation.

The 2004 arrest occurred on a commuter train after Giusti was kicked off for not paying his fare, Steve Wagstaffe, chief deputy district attorney for San Mateo County, said. Giusti became enraged, started screaming and threatened to kill the conductor, who called in the sheriff, Wagstaffe said.   

A spokesman for Pelosi praised law enforcement efforts but said she would not comment further.

The arrest is the second in two days related to harassment of a Democratic lawmaker who voted for the insurance overhaul legislation. On Tuesday, federal prosecutors charged a Washington state man with repeatedly making threatening calls to Sen. Patty Murray's Seattle office.

In the wake of the bill's passage last month, at least four offices of Democratic lawmakers were vandalized, and some officials were offered increased security as a result of the threats.

Both Republicans and Democrats have been the targets of violent threats. A man who had used a Web video to announce his intention to kill Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., was arrested on March 29. Cantor, a top House Republican leader, opposed the health care bill.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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