A former Palo Alto firefighter who threatened Police Chief Dennis Burns and several city officials was sentenced on Friday (Dec. 16) to receive mental-health counseling and to seek employment or retraining.
Andrew Jentzsch, 48, had been a firefighter and paramedic with the City of Palo Alto for 20 years, starting in 1983. In 2003, he resigned his position but then wanted to return to the job. The city did not rehire him.
Jentzsch has written in online posts that he sustained a painful shoulder injury and required a joint replacement. He said the city did not help him or provide benefits for his injury. He had a long history of resentment over the incident, which he documented in posts on various Internet forums.
On March 22 he made several posts on Palo Alto Online's Town Square forum that referenced weapons, ammunition, "ending it" and "not being around for the aftermath."
He also referenced Burns, who is interim fire chief, but who did not have anything to do with the dispute. The posts included a list of people with whom Jentzsch held grievances, including president of the firefighters union Tony Spitaleri and City Manager James Keene.
Jentzsch was arrested April 21 in Hawaii by Hawaiian county police and was extradited to California May 12. He pleaded no contest on May 19 to a felony count of making criminal threats as part of a plea bargain.
He had faced two felonies: making threats to commit a crime resulting in death or great bodily injury and threatening a public official, and making annoying or threatening phone calls or using other means of mass communication, a misdemeanor.
Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Kurt Kumli in Palo Alto sentenced Jentzsch to 200 hours of community service, 48 days in jail (reduced for time served and the balance waived), to pay undetermined compensation to his victims, various fees and fines and submit to search and seizure of his home and computer.
He was banned from possessing any weapon and cannot possess a firearm or ammunition for the rest of his life. He must seek gainful employment or vocational retraining and must attend anger-management classes and receive mental-health counseling as specified by his probation officer.
Kumli also added criminal protective orders barring Jentzsch from any contact with Burns, Keene, Spitaleri and city labor negotiator Sandra Blanch. He must stay at least 300 feet away from City Hall, but in the event that he has business there, he can contact Assistant City Attorney Donald Larkin by phone to set up an appointment.
Jentzsch quietly accepted the terms of the plea deal and withdrew a notice of appeal.