A Republican candidate seeking to unseat U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters was remanded into custody Thursday for allegedly continuing to stalk his ex-girlfriend after being released from jail on $75,000 bail over the weekend.
Omar Navarro, a 30-year-old resident of Torrance, was arrested overnight Saturday after being spotted outside the Outer Sunset apartment of DeAnna Lorraine Tesoriero, a conservative commentator who is also running for congress.
Navarro bailed out of County Jail only to continue texting Tesoriero dozens of times in the following days in an apparent violation of a restraining order she obtained against him back in August, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Navarro appeared in court for the first time Thursday wearing a blue suit and pleaded not guilty to the charges.
He was taken away in handcuffs at the end of the hearing in which prosecutor Courtney Burris recited a lengthy list of threatening text messages Navarro allegedly sent Tesoriero,
Navarro ran two unsuccessful campaigns to unseat Waters in 2016 and 2018. He has also reportedly courted the support of far-right figures including political operative Roger Stone and former Sheriff Joe Arpaio from Arizona.
Prosecutors say Navarro and Tesoriero dated for a few months in the beginning of the year.
But ever since the relationship ended in April, Burris said Navarro had engaged in a “troubling, ongoing, escalating pattern of stalking.”
Navarro allegedly began showing up at places uninvited. He is accused of threatening to destroy her reputation by leaking incriminating photos and publishing defamatory information. He also threatened to kill himself and to hire a hitman to kill her, prosecutors allege.
“I’m going to have antifa come after your family,” Navarro allegedly told her.
The alleged threats escalated to the point that Tesoriero moved to San Francisco from Redondo Beach “specifically just to get away from Mr. Navarro,” Burris said.
“You will push me to be Dexter,” Navarro allegedly told Tesoriero, referencing the Showtime television show about a serial killer.
Then at around 2 a.m. on Dec. 8, prosecutors say Tesoriero received a series of robo calls. When she finally picked up, she said Navarro was on the line.
Tesoriero called police and Navarro was arrested outside her building.
After being released on bail, Burris said Navarro tried to convince Tesoriero not to cooperate with prosecutors.
His attorney, Ken Lewis, told a different story about what happened.
Lewis argued that Tesoriero had called Navarro and told him to visit her in San Francisco as a set up. He also claimed that Navarro hadn’t sent the text messages — his enemies on social media had.
“There are a lot of people don’t like him your honor,” Lewis told the judge. “Any one of these people could be doing this… to try to make him look bad.”
Lewis also disputed that Tesoriero moved up to San Francisco to avoid Navarro.
“She’s running for congress against Nancy Pelosi,” Lewis said. “She had to move up here at some point your honor. I don’t think she did it just because of him.”
Arguing that his client should not be remanded into custody, Lewis said Navarro being booked back into jail would damage his campaign.
“This just blows his whole campaign out of the water,” Lewis said.
Navarro has previously had trouble with the law, Burris said. He has a prior conviction from 2017 for placing a tracking device on his ex-wife’s car.
“There is a history of this stalking… pattern of tracking not just one woman but two,” Burris said. “And it’s escalated.”
San Francisco Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos ordered Navarro back into custody for being a threat to public safety, himself and to Tesoriero. She also ordered him to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
Navarro is facing charges of stalking, making terroristic threats, violating a restraining order and dissuading a witness.
He is due back in court next month.