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'Gratata' social media star headed for drug, weapon sentencing

One of Charlottesville’s most notorious social media stars, Bryan “Gratata” Silva, faces sentencing on weapon and drug charges next month. But some former office neighbors are expressing worry about something sooner: that Silva could be released from jail.

“We’re taking it very seriously here,” one of the tenants told The Daily Progress. “We’re back to locking our door and keeping it closed.”

The tenant, asking not to be identified over concerns about retribution, alleged that another tenant recently received word from a victim’s advocate that Silva had applied for home electronic incarceration at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail. Home electronic incarceration frees up jail space by letting certain prisoners get out from behind bars by wearing electronic monitors.

Silva rose to fame in 2014 with a six-second video on the now-defunct Vine app. In the video, Silva points a finger pantomiming a handgun toward a bathroom mirror and says, as if firing a machine gun, “Gratata.”

In that video, Silva was naked from the waist up. Today, however, Silva appears to spend much of his time naked from the waist down.

The 32-year-old has nearly 26,000 followers on his mostly porn-promoting Twitter account. And he recently filled out a form for the local magistrate asserting that he earns up to $10,000 every month from the pornographic videos he uploads to his OnlyFans account.

Despite his business boom, Silva has had several legal troubles. His most infamous occurred in January 2016, when he barricaded himself in a Jefferson Park Avenue-area apartment after pointing a gun at a 17-year-old girl he’d met online. The ensuing police stand-off shut down the street outside for about nine hours — some of which Silva spent live-streaming himself guzzling alcohol and taunting the cops. He later pleaded guilty to two charges, including brandishing a firearm, and served nearly two years behind bars.

Last June, Silva was convicted of stalking a female University of Virginia student at her apartment building on West Main Street. The court file in that case shows that the woman sought a protective order against him.

Silva became the subject of another protective order just three months after that conviction. This time it was the office neighbor who alleges that he was recently warned about Silva’s potential release. The man told police that Silva threatened to kill him after Silva’s car was towed from the property.

Silva faces two more hearings next month. One hearing could assess damages in his eviction from that office building. Following a writ of eviction granted on April 26, the landlord’s attorney Randall Purdue said the preliminary amount of back rent, damages and other fees Silva owes totals nearly $24,000.

“We have issued and served him with no-trespass papers as well,” Purdue told The Daily Progress.

The other July hearing will set Silva’s punishment on the weapon and drug charges to which Silva pleaded guilty last month. Both crimes are classified as low-level felonies, so he may not get much, if any, prison beyond the time already served since his arrest on Nov. 14.

That was the day after the murderous shooting at the University of Virginia that claimed three lives. And Silva, hours before the shooting, had made threatening comments targeting the school on social media.

“I want u v a to know what pain and suffering is,” he wrote on Facebook. “I will sell everything I have to make that pain and suffering happen.”

Silva was not charged for those words but for something else that he previously posted on Facebook: images of him handling ammunition-filled gun magazines.

Those things are forbidden to a convicted felon.

So the day after the UVa killings, Charlottesville police Cpl. Steven Young and other officers showed up with a battering ram, according to the March 3 testimony of Charlottesville police Detective Christopher Raines.

Raines told the Charlottesville General District Court about the Nov. 14 raid at the downtown office.

“Cpl. Young knocked and announced, ‘Charlottesville Police Department,’” Raines testified.

They did not wait for for the door to be opened, as damage to the door and molding attests.

Raines described finding three gun magazines — one filled with 9mm rounds and two others with 7.62 rounds, the kind that go into an AK-47 rifle. Plus, he said he saw a cardboard box under bubble wrap.

“It was just filled up with ammunition,” Raines testified.

Raines went on to describe a sealable plastic bag that held a white powder later found to contain cocaine, according to a certificate of analysis on file at the Charlottesville Circuit Court.

Silva’s troubles in his rented office at 223 W. Main St. began two months before the raid. On Sept. 7, just six days into his lease, the landlord sent him a letter asserting that he was headed toward default by allegedly failing to obtain insurance, by failing to return borrowed keys and by improper parking. The landlord, the Joe H. Gieck Trust, also mentioned a persistent marijuana odor that wafted into nearby offices. They filed eviction papers five weeks later.

When the eviction came to court in February, an attorney said that Silva, then jailed and not present for the hearing, wanted to hold on to the office.

“I never broke my lease,” he later wrote to the court. “I never received a letter saying the potential defaults under the lease.”

On April 14, the landlord won that eviction case. But Silva wanted the office so much that, 11 days later, he filed his own counterclaim against the landlord. However, that effort to retain the office was dismissed.

“Clearly, having this office is important to him,” said one of Silva’s worried former office neighbors.

While Silva might be eligible for home electronic incarceration, that has not happened yet. Silva remains where he has been since Nov. 14, at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail, according jail Superintendent Martin Kumer.

“He is still physically incarcerated,” Kumer told The Daily Progress Thursday afternoon.

Silva’s criminal defense attorney, Peter Frazier, said that he would need to confer with his client before making a substantive statement.

“We have sentencing set for July, and he looks forward to making statements at that point,” Frazier told The Daily Progress.

The prospect of Silva’s release is keeping some former office neighbors concerned that he might return despite the no-trespass order and the restraining order.

“Bryan is not a good rule follower,” said one of them. “He’s going to be upset.”


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