A disgraced former journalist pleaded guilty in a New York federal court on Tuesday to calling in fake bomb threats to at least a dozen Jewish Community Centers as a part of a bizarre revenge campaign against an ex-girlfriend.
Juan Thompson, 31, of St. Louis, Missouri, was charged with making threats to numerous Jewish centers across the country as well as to the Anti-Defamation League’s headquarters posing as his ex-girlfriend in a plot to "harass and intimidate” her, officials said.
“Fueling fear and distress, Juan Thompson made fake bomb threats to over a dozen Jewish Community Centers and organizations around the country,” Joon H. Kim, the Acting U.S Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement. “Thompson's threats not only inflicted emotional distress on his victim, but also harmed Jewish communities around the country," he added.
Thompson pleaded guilty to one count of cyberstalking and one count of making hoax bomb threats.
He told a U.S. District Judge that he was "slightly nervous" as he pleaded guilty to charges that each carry a potential penalty of five years in prison. He agreed not to appeal any sentence at or below 46 months, nearly four years, in prison.
Thompson said he sent emails and faxes to his ex-girlfriend's employer after she ended their relationship in the summer of 2016 and later made bomb threats, claiming his ex-girlfriend had planted bombs at several local community centers in New York and other states.
Thompson admitted he made the threats "to disrupt my ex-romantic partner's life" and cause her distress.
"For this, I deeply apologize," he said.
Thompson’s fake threats piggy-backed off of the wave of bomb threats that terrorized the Jewish community across the country earlier this year.
From January to March, more than 150 bomb threats were reported against Jewish community centers and day schools in 37 states and two Canadian provinces, according to the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish group that battles anti-Semitism.
Thompson had been fired in 2015 from his job at The Intercept after he was accused of fabricating an interview with a supposed cousin of white supremacist mass murderer Dylann Roof.
Thompson will go before a judge for sentencing later this year.