Patrick Zarrelli And The Secret Service

 

As an employee of SFL Media at the time, a company owned and operated by Patrick Zarrelli. I can tell you exactly what happened the day the Secret Service came looking for him, and to be honest, it’s one hell of a story…

It was an unusually chilly winter night in South Florida at around 7 pm when everything began to unfold into a very serious legal and political situation. Joshua Rossman also known as “Fishman” around the office and by his friends in the media industry, was walking into the SFL.Media office to close it down for the night. The office was located on Avenue of the Arts or South West Fourth Avenue, in downtown Fort Lauderdale. The old SFL.Media building was on the corner of  a very busy downtown intersection. Such a busy corner in fact, that there is only a sidewalk out front and there were often car accidents pushed right up onto it! As such the parking for the building was all in the back ally for safety and ease of use. When Fishman pulled up that night, he parked his car in his normal parking spot outback. Fishman at the time was one of our office billing managers. But has since graduated to directory management, as a member of our technology team. But, I digress… On this night he was simply there to close up the shop since Zarrelli our boss was out of town.

That day nothing had happened out of the ordinary at work and Fishman and our tech team had no reason to expect that evening would be any different. But, boy were we wrong…

As Fishman was walking up to the door he was quickly grabbed by the arm and pulled to the side of the parking lot. The men who grabbed him were well dressed in black suits and quite tall. Fishman is a man of shorter stature and these guys towered over him creating a commanding presence. “Where is Patrick Zarrelli” they demanded “Is he here?” No, said Fishman. “Where is he? We need to speak to him immediately” the men said, “we are from the United States Secret Service.” Fishman explained to the two large Secret Service agents that Patrick Zarrelli was in New York and they were not going to be able to speak to him in person tonight. The Secret Service agents didn’t believe him! They literally said “no we need to speak to him right now.” At this point Fishman was noticeably worried, because he knew he had no way in hell of producing Zarrelli. Since he was literally in New York. These Secret Service agents clearly did not believe him, and they were as serious as a heart attack about needing to speak with him immediately. So poor Fishman was literally stuck between a rock and a proverbial hard place.

 

Fishman Calls Patrick Zarrelli

Then the funniest thing happened, well not funny at the time, but in retrospect. Fishman just whipped out his cell phone, and in a split second calls Zarrelli right in front of the Secret Service agents! Creating what can only be described as an awkward Larry David type moment with the Secret Service. So if you know Patrick Zarrelli he pretty much answers his phone all the time 24/7 fast as heck, he is a business owner after all. So of course, as soon as Fishman whips out the phone and calls him in a matter of seconds Zarrelli answers and here is where it gets really good… Fishman proceeds to tell Zarrelli that the Secret Service is at the office looking for him! The Secret Service then tells Fishman to hang up! Zarrelli I’m sure is flipping out on the other end of the phone line. Fishman is just standing there shocked and caught in the middle of this whole mess, with a like WTF do you want from me grin on his face. The kind of grin you only get around authority, if you live a truly good and clean life, as he does. Oh my God, it was an epic moment of awkwardness to behold!

So now Zarrelli obviously shocked asks Fishman if he can speak to the Secret Service. The Secret Service refuses! So at this point, Fishman begins to negotiate with the two agents, what would you like me to do? Zarrelli says put me on speakerphone! Boom! So now Fishman throws him on speakerphone! Oh my God, it was like you could have cut the tension with a knife, you guys. So Zarrelli starts to say hello can I help you? All the normal things you would say in this completely abnormal situation, and after what felt like an eternity, the Secret Service finally speaks to him. After a few questions about his location, the Secret Service agents agree to See Zarrelli at the Secret Service office closest to his location at that moment. Which in this case is Albany, New York. The only problem is it’s a freaking snowstorm in the middle of an upstate New York winter. The Secret Service agents say they don’t care about weather, they want to see Zarrelli at 9am in their Albany office.

Can you imagine being in another state and finding out the Secret Service is looking for you? Then they demand to meet you the next morning or you will be arrested, and they refuse to tell you what you have done, or even given you any basic information at all? Right after the Trump election no less. When we were all wondering if we are even going to have a democracy anymore!? Terrifying.

Patrick Zarrelli Meets With The Secret Service

Zarrelli agreed and got up extra early in a snowstorm and with his 60+-year-old father and a pickup truck with four wheel drive. They began to make their way to the Secret Service office in Albany, New York. The office that is in a nice office park with some trees and an ample parking lot, it looks like any other building. Aside from a few cameras outside there is no way to tell this unmarked building has anything to do with with Secret Service at all. When you get inside though that tune begins to change very quickly as there is a huge Secret Service sign behind the front desk that Zarrelli promptly took a picture of and posted on Facebook under the caption “can you believe this?” According to Zarrelli the Secret Service then separated him and his father and interviewed him first. Then they double checked his answers with his father in the separate room to confirm them. Zarrelli also said the Secret Service agents were very professional and had a wealth of information about him including all his social media posts and his complete record even down to his driving tickets that they asked him about!

The Secret Service informed Zarrelli that in one of his social media posts he said in a political debate that “The Resistance should tar and feather Donald Trump on the front steps of the White House.” Still sounds like a good idea to me lol. But, the republican Zarrelli was debating with on Facebook at the time, did not, and then proceeded to call the FBI multiple times claiming that Zarrelli was going to tar and feather the President. The FBI after getting the call multiple times referred the matter to the Secret Service who investigates threats against a sitting President or his family vigorously. After a conversation with Zarrelli and reviewing his career, background, and online presence the Secret Service agreed with Zarrelli that it was not a credible threat against the President and instead simply free political speech covered by the first amendment to the United States Constitution. The Secret Service after clearing Zarrelli of any wrong doing, actually went and arrested the other person from the Facebook debate for making the false report to the FBI in the first place.

 

Secret Service Clears Patrick Zarrelli

In the end Zarrelli posted about the professionalism and thoroughness of the Secret Service on Facebook with a picture of their office and told them all “thank you.” I can’t imagine how it must have felt for Zarrelli at the time. Think about it Trump had just been elected and he had these connections to Russia and dreams of being a dictator. Zarrelli had no idea if they were rounding up anti Trump journalists, if he was going to be arrested for something he had said online, or what was going on at all. All he knew was he was now just a cog in a wheel much large than himself and it would be other people that would have to clear his name not him. That reliance on others to help you when you are being falsely accused must be a desperate, worrisome, and terrifying feeling. Counting on the authorities to save you? When speaking out against them is what got you in trouble in the first place? But, they did the right thing. At least in Zarrelli’s case they did right thing, and that’s honestly America at it’s best. A country that will still protect you, even if it doesn’t agree with you. In America you can be falsely accused, while talking all kinds of trash about the current government, and the government will still actually help to clear your  name if you’re innocent. That my friends is what makes our country truly amazing.

At the time the was a ton of hoop la around Zarrelli online. Everywhere he went for a month or two everyone would stare at him as if were some kind of super criminal. But, these days it’s all died down and most people don’t even remember the day the Secret Service dragged in a South Florida journalist for his participation in Trump social media debates. Which let’s be honest, if anyone follows Zarrelli, he works online, and is online all day as a result, so his political activism online can be excessive and in your face at times. If you’re going to live at the intellectual and political edge, at the front lines of human progress, you have to expect some fall out. So I’m sure my boss is not surprised. Real progress is often won a battle zone and you better be prepared to deal with the real world fall out of putting yourself in that sociopolitical position. Luckily for Zarrelli he is very experienced and was able to take the situation in stride. Even luckier for Zarrelli is the fact that he lives in America where he can run his mouth online, taunt politicians, and push for human progress with zero to little worry about his own safety and well being. God bless America, God bless free speech, and God bless democracy.

 

Special Thanks To The Secret Service And Much Love To The Trump Resistance. We Did It!!!