NEW YORK (Reuters) A former journalist charged with calling in bomb threats to U.S. Jewish centers as part of a plot to get revenge on his ex-girlfriend has pleaded guilty to cyberstalking and making hoax threats.
Juan Thompson, 32, entered his plea Tuesday (June 13) before U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel in Manhattan federal court.
Showing little emotion, Thompson admitted that starting in 2016, he sent emails and faxes to his former romantic partner’s employer containing false and salacious claims and sent bomb threats to community centers, for which he tried to frame her.
“I committed all of these acts with the intent to disrupt my ex-romantic partner’s life and cause her great distress,” he said. “For this, I deeply apologize.”
One of Thompson’s lawyers, Mark Gombiner, said in court that he had agreed not to appeal any sentence of 46 months or less.
Thompson was arrested in St. Louis on March 3 and has been in custody since then, charged with one count of cyberstalking. A second count of making hoax bomb threats was added in a superseding criminal information revealed on Tuesday.
Federal prosecutors said Thompson engaged in a vicious, monthslong harassment campaign against his ex-girlfriend, using various email accounts to accuse her of possessing child pornography, driving drunk and, finally, making bomb threats targeting Jewish groups.
Thompson made some threats in his own name and then accused his ex-girlfriend of framing him, and made other threats posing as her, prosecutors said.
U.S. authorities have been investigating a surge of threats against Jewish organizations, including more than 100 bomb threats against community centers in dozens of states in separate waves since January.
The organizations Thompson threatened included a Jewish museum in New York and the Anti-Defamation League, according to a criminal complaint in Manhattan federal court. All occurred after the first flood of phone threats in early January.
Thompson was a reporter for the Intercept news website, which fired him last year, saying he invented sources and quotes.