Juan Thompson, former journalist, pleads guilty over Jewish center bomb threats
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The former journalist accused of making at least a dozen phony bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers across the country this year faces up to a decade behind bars after pleading guilty Tuesday in Manhattan federal court.
Juan Thompson, 32, pleaded guilty to one count of cyberstalking and one count of making hoax threats in connection with what U.S. prosecutors portrayed as a monthslong campaign of harassment centered around an unidentified ex-girlfriend after she ended their relationship last summer.
In the course of seeking revenge against the woman, Thompson admittedly made bombs threats against Jewish centers in multiple states under his ex-girlfriend’s name, all the while waging a narrower campaign of harassment aimed at humiliating and defaming her in the wake of their July 2016 break-up.
“I committed all these acts with the intent to disrupt my ex romantic partner’s life and cause her substantial distress,” Thompson told U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel during Tuesday’s hearing. “For this, I deeply apologize and am pleading guilty today.”
Thompson, a St. Louis native and former writer for The Intercept, was arrested in March and charged with making bombs threats in January and February to Jewish targets in New York, California, Michigan and Texas, including Jewish Community Centers, the Anti-Defamation League and Jewish History Museum in Manhattan.
“As he admitted today in pleading guilty, Thompson made these threats as part of a cruel campaign to cyberstalk a victim with whom he previously had a relationship,” Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said in a statement. “Thompson’s threats not only inflicted emotional distress on his victim, but also harmed Jewish communities around the country.”
Thompson spent months harassing his ex-girlfriend prior to making the bogus bomb threats by spreading salacious allegations about the woman and threatening to publicly release her naked photographs, prosecutors argued.
“For months our client was the target of relentless and unrelenting online stalking, defamation and impersonation at the hands of Juan Thompson,” said Carrie Goldberg, an attorney for the victim, the Riverfront Time reported. “What began as revenge porn culminated in a national news story when he called in hoax bomb threats at Jewish Community Centers around the country, again impersonating her or claiming he knew she was about to take this violent action.”
Thompson faces a maximum of five years in prison for cyberstalking and five years in prison for making hoax threats, as well as fines of up to $500,000 when he’s sentenced Sept. 15. Defense attorneys are requesting Thompson be sentenced to no more than three years behind bars but have agreed not to appeal anything under 46 months, NBC News reported.
Attorneys for Thompson did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.