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A Berkeley man is facing extortion and criminal threats charges, both felonies, after authorities say he sent bizarre emails to a former friend, demanding $25,000 and threatening to kill him and his family.

Jesse Gilbert, 38, has been in custody since his arrest in late October. He is scheduled to enter a plea in the case next week in Alameda County Superior Court.

According to court papers, the victim told police he got six emails from Gilbert, some of which demanded money. Lines quoted by police reportedly from the emails included: “I will put you through a meat grinder if you don’t pay me $25,000” and “If I do get the ability and you don’t pay I will kill you.”

The emails also included phrases, according to court documents, such as “I may be putting thee in a ditch all while watching you twitch,” “You are at the top of my list,” “My business partners might blast you in daylight in the middle of the plaza” and “not to mention some dudes who know how to cut heads off.”

The victim told police he was afraid for his safety and believed Gilbert was capable of carrying out the death threats.

When police arrested Gilbert on Oct. 25 at 10:15 p.m., he was placed on a mental health hold, police wrote.

Gilbert remains in custody at Santa Rita Jail with a bail of $75,000 and is scheduled to enter a plea in the case Jan. 19 at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse.

He initially was also arrested on suspicion of tattooing a person under 18, but was not charged on that matter. (Update: That violation appears to have been listed in jail records in error, either due to a data entry error during booking, or because the code section changed over time.)

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Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist of the Year...