GALLUP, N.M. (KRQE) – Matthews James Cerno, 48, made his first appearance in federal court after being charged with making threats of violence against an FBI agent. According to a criminal complaint, in February 2018, Cerno was interviewed by law enforcement officers from the FBI Albuquerque Field office after he claimed to have information regarding the West Mesa murders.

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In October 2021, he contacted the office to follow up on his previous report and was interviewed again. Then in November 2021, he again contacted the office and an FBI agent called him from an FBI-issued cellphone. They say Cerno provided statements similar to his previous interviews. Over the following two-month period, Cerno allegedly made multiple calls to that cell phone and the agent told him to contact the FBI call center.

Beginning in late January 2022, Cerno allegedly left four messages on the agent’s voicemail threatening to drug, rape, and direct a beating of the agent. He also told the agent that his FBI badge would not save him.

If convicted, Cerno faces up to five years in prison. He will remain in custody pending a detention hearing set for May 13.