DANVERS — A Peabody man who allegedly threatened to blow up a movie theater inside the Liberty Tree Mall in Danvers last summer insisted through his attorney yesterday that the statement was just a joke.
But police and prosecutors aren’t so sure Jorge Aurich was just kidding around. And a judge called the remarks at a minimum a “very, very poor exercise in judgment in making a joke no one found humorous.”
Aurich, 30, pleaded not guilty to a charge of making a bomb threat during his arraignment in Salem District Court yesterday afternoon.
Prosecutor Alex Grimes said that during an exchange with a ticket counter employee at the AMC Loews movie theater back on Aug. 10, Aurich was told he would need identification to purchase tickets to an R-rated movie.
He instead apparently purchased tickets to see “Grown Ups 2,” the Adam Sandler movie filmed partly on the North Shore.
But when the register was open, the clerk later told police, Aurich, who had a T-shirt pulled up over part of his face, demanded “Give me the tens and twenties.” “Are you serious?” the clerk responded.
Aurich allegedly told the clerk that if he didn’t give him the money, he would “blow up the place,” then stuck his hand in his pocket, Grimes told the judge.
The clerk again asked if Aurich was serious.
“No, I was joking,” he said, before asking for a refund, according to the prosecutor.
But if it was a joke, it was, like the Sandler film, a dud. The clerk reported the conversation to management.
Over the next several weeks, police had several interactions with Aurich near the theater, including an incident in which he was allegedly scalping movie tickets. Eventually, the theater — where Aurich had previously worked for 12 years — barred him from the premises, said the prosecutor.