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Cleveland Jewish Attorney Receives Death Threats from Convict

A 39-year-old Cleveland man is facing two counts of retaliation and ethnic intimidation after he allegedly made a death threat against a prosecutor who wore a yarmulke and threats against the judge in a prison phone call. On June 14, 2018, Joseph W. Riffle was sentenced to one year and nine months in prison following his conviction on marijuana cultivation and firearms.

“The following day based on something he said during the sentencing. I was inclined to listen to his jail calls that evening,” said Joe (Yosef) Hochheiser, who was an assistant prosecuting attorney at the time. 

Hochheiser said Riffle made a death threat against him and threats against Judge Shannon M. Gallagher.

“He had some choice words about me and my ancestors, let’s just say that, generations prior,” Hochheiser said. “And that really shook me because it took it out of a place of baseless hate and it made it a lot more personal.”

Hochheiser spoke to his supervisor in the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office and reported the information to the sheriff.

On Sept. 14, 2018, Riffle was indicted with two counts of retaliation. On Nov. 14, 2019, the grand jury handed up additional indictments: having weapons under disability, specifically a .45 handgun and an AK 47 7.62mm rifle; tampering with evidence; and ethnic intimidation, described as “aggravated menacing, by reason of race, color, religion or natural origin.”

If convicted on all charges, he could be sentenced from nine months to 10 years in prison. Each retaliation count carries a nine- to 36-month sentence and the ethnic intimidation count carries a sentence of six to 12 months, Jeff Maver, assistant prosecuting attorney, told the Cleveland Jewish News.

Maver said law enforcement has spent “quite a bit” of time on the case. “It’s very important,” Maver said. “It’s not just another case.”

Riffle is being held at Cuyahoga County Jail pending trial of this case, scheduled for December before retired Stark County Judge John Haas. He was serving his previous sentence at Trumbull County in Warren.

Source: https://www.clevelandjewishnews.com/news/local_news/orthodox-attorney-calls-threat-from-cleveland-convict-pretty-disturbing/article_ce01081a-1049-11ea-a72b-6b1aed91096c.html