(NEW YORK) -- St. Louis native and disgraced former journalist Juan Thompson pleaded guilty on Tuesday to one count of cyber stalking and one count of making hoax bomb threats as part of his campaign to harass and intimidate a woman with whom he had a past relationship, according to the United States Attorney's Office Southern District of New York.
Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim announced in a statement that Thompson admitted to communicating at least 12 threats to Jewish Community Centers and other organizations in a woman's name, identified as Victim-1.
“Fueling fear and distress, Juan Thompson made fake bomb threats to over a dozen Jewish Community Centers and organizations around the country," said Kim in the statement. "As he admitted Tuesday in pleading guilty, Thompson made these threats as part of a cruel campaign to cyber stalk a victim with whom he previously had a relationship. Thompson’s threats not only inflicted emotional distress on his victim, but also harmed Jewish communities around the country."
Kim thanked the FBI, New York Police Department, United States Secret Service and St. Louis Police Department for their commitment to investigating the case.
If convicted, Thompson can face a maximum of five years in prison for cyber stalking and five years in prison for making hoax threats.
According to details in the press release, Thompson, 32, started his month-long campaign to harass Victim-1 in July 2016 after she ended their relationship.
In July, Thompson sent an email to Victim-1's employer, making false allegations that she had broken the law, using an internet protocol (IP)address that he had once used to access his social media, said the press release. Then on Oct. 15, 2016, an IP address linked to Thompson's residence was used to falsely report that Victim-1 possessed child pornography. When confronted by law enforcement on Nov. 22, 2016, Thompson denied that the IP address was his and claimed that his email account had been hacked, according to the statement.
"Thompson also made at least 12 hoax threats targeting JCCs, organizations that provide service to and on behalf of the Jewish community, schools, and police departments," added the statement.
On or about Feb. 21, 2017, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) received email threats to their Manhattan office that indicated that Victim-1 was behind the bomb threats against Jews and that she was planning to make more threats the next day. That following day, a call was placed to ADL stating that explosive material had been placed in their midtown Manhattan office, said the press release.
In an effort to make it seem as though Victim-1 was trying to frame Thompson, Thompson also made some of the threats in his own name, according to the statement.
"For instance, on or about February 7, 2017, a JCC in Manhattan received an emailed bomb threat from an anonymous email account that stated: 'Juan Thompson [THOMPSON’s birthday] put two bombs in the office of the Jewish center today. He wants to create Jewish newtown tomorrow,'" said the press release.
The email's reference to "Jewish newtown" appeared to be in regards to the December 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, that resulted in 26 deaths.
In addition to using his name in emails, Thompson also sent a tweet on Feb. 24, 2017 that tried to further prove his point that Victim-1 was attempting to frame him.
According to the press release, the St. Louis native tweeted,“[S]he [Victim-1], though I can’t prove it, even sent a bomb threat in my name to a Jewish center, which was odd given her antisemitic statements. I got a visit from the FBI. So now I’m battling the racist FBI and this vile, evil, racist white woman."
On Feb. 26, 2017, Thompson's Twitter account also tweeted, "The hatred of Jews goes across all demos. Ask NYC’s [Victim-1’s employer]. They employ a filthy anti-Semite in [Victim-1]. These ppl are evil."
Thompson was originally arrested by the FBI in St. Louis on March 3 in connection to the anti-Semitic threats.
After his arrest, his former employer, online news site The Intercept, released a statement: "We were horrified to learn this morning that Juan Thompson, a former employee of The Intercept, has been arrested in connection with bomb threats against the ADL and multiple Jewish Community Centers in addition to cyberstalking. These actions are heinous and should be fully investigated and prosecuted."
The Intercept added that Thompson had been fired in January 2016 for fabricating sources and quotes in his articles.
Thompson is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Kevin P. Castel on September 15.
His arrest came after five waves of bomb threats were made at JCCs and Jewish schools nationwide this year. The JCC Association of North America reported a total of at least 100 incidents this year alone. No bombs were found at any of the locations. The FBI and the Justice Department's civil rights division are investigating the incidents.
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