An ex-journalist pleaded guilty in a Manhattan court Tuesday to counts of cyberstalking and conveying false information in connection to a string of bomb threats targeting Jewish community centers nationwide, local media reported. In each instance, he would use the name of his ex.
US 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. "Thompson's threats not only inflicted emotional distress on his victim but also harmed Jewish communities around the country".
He was arrested March 3 for the threats, which carry a penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine up to $250,000. These threats provoked panic and emergency evacuations at numerous Jewish organizations, including community centers, during the early months of 2017.
The organizations Thompson threatened included a Jewish museum in NY and the Anti-Defamation League, according to a criminal complaint in Manhattan federal court.
He said he committed the crimes "to disrupt my ex-romantic partner's life and cause her great distress". "For this, I deeply apologize and plead guilty".
"Newtown" is a reference to the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School that claimed the lives of 26 educators and children.
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Defense lawyers and prosecutors told Castel they have not agreed on how to apply federal sentencing guidelines to Thompson's case.
The government collected evidence from about two dozen laptops, tablets and cellphones seized from Thompson's home.
Thompson, who is scheduled to be sentenced on September 15, faces up to 10 years in federal lockup for the counts.
In his plea to bomb hoaxes, he admitted at least 12 threats to Jewish community centers, service groups and schools.
In a statement after the plea, the Anti-Defamation League said his conduct "was inexcusable and stoked fears of anti-Semitism at a time when such incidents were on the rise".