WARREN – State Sen. Robert Giuda, R-Warren, said after he tried to end an online friendship with a woman, she demanded “significant” money and made violent threats against him and his wife, Christine, who’s been in a coma for the past four years.
Giuda, a 68-year-old senator serving his second term, said for two months he shared with the woman “private conversations” and “photographs” and described “some of which are appropriate.”
The FBI is investigating the matter said Giuda who apologized to his friends and family for any embarrassment this incident has caused them.
Giuda said the relationship began due to “sadness and loneliness” that set in because the COVID-19 pandemic prevented him from visiting his wife who is in a southern New Hampshire health care facility more than 100 miles from his home.
“I realized that this online relationship was going places I didn’t want it to go, and decided to end it,” Giuda said in a statement he shared with Senate colleagues and the Union Leader.
Giuda also posted it on his Facebook account Monday morning.
“What I thought was two new friends having conversations about their similar life experiences in their lives shared was in fact an extortion scam.”
The FBI typically does not confirm the existence of ongoing investigations.
Prior to the pandemic, Giuda would frequently visit his wife of 39 years who has been in a vegetative state since sustaining a brain injury.
Giuda would often share on social media detailed descriptions of those visits where he would read and pray with her.
“I learned from the FBI that this type of victimization happens thousands of times a year, as these criminals target the vulnerable and especially our elderly,” Giuda said.
“It is my hope to bring something constructive out of this experience to assist other victims of these crimes and to hopefully prevent anyone else from ending up victims of extortion.”
Colleagues support Giuda for reporting incident
Senate President Donna Soucy, D-Manchester, praised Giuda for reporting this incident to authorities.
“From what I know of the circumstances, it sounds as though it is very painful for Senator Giuda and his family,” Soucy said. “I think he did the right thing by going to the FBI and I hope that law enforcement is able to apprehend this individual or group of individuals.”
Senate Republican Leader Chuck Morse, R-Salem, said all colleagues wish Giuda and his family well.
“Our colleague is a victim of extortion,” Morse said in a statement. “He contacted the FBI to report this extortion. Our thoughts and prayers are with Senator Giuda, his wife, Christine, who has been in a coma for four years, and his family.”
A retired airline pilot and U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Giuda served on the Senate Finance Committee and in response to the pandemic, Gov. Chris Sununu named Giuda as one of four state senators on the Economic Reopening Task Force.
“This incident has truly shaken me. I’m speaking out about this first to apologize to my friends and family for any embarrassment I may have caused them,” Giuda said.
“There are no words I can use to describe the mental anguish I’ve suffered because of this over the past two months.”
Giuda represents 29 towns in the Lakes Region and Grafton County and in his bid for reelection faces Plymouth Democrat Bill Bolton.
In 2018, Giuda defeated Bolton by 751 votes or just over 3 percent of the vote.
Prior to his Senate service, Giuda was a House member for six years.
In 2010, Giuda ran for Congress in the Second Congressional District finishing third in a GOP primary won by Charles Bass.
A former congressman, Bass again ran for the seat he had earlier held and won it back in November 2010.
Two years later, Hopkinton Democrat Annie Kuster defeated Bass, and she’s held the seat ever since.
“We hope that the perpetrators are convicted to the fullest extent of the law,” Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley tweeted Monday morning. “Our hearts go out to the Giuda family as they begin the healing process.”
Several friends posted to Giuda’s Facebook account their support, some confiding that their family members have fallen victim to similar online predators.
“You’re a good man Bob…always have been, always will be,” wrote Richard M. Locke.
“Good people make mistakes too. They learn from them, and move on. It sounds like your only mistake was actually trusting the wrong person in a moment of weakness. This sad episode changes nothing.”