A former journalist who attended college in the Hudson Valley has pleaded guilty to cyberstalking and making hoax bomb threats that targeted Jewish Community Centers.
On Tuesday, Joon Kim, the acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced that 32-year-old Juan Thompson has pleaded guilty in Manhattan Federal Court to making fake threats as part of his “campaign to harass and intimidate” a former girlfriend.
The St. Louis resident was a political science major at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, where he enrolled in 2009 before dropping out in 2013, according to reports. The news website The Intercept said Thompson worked there for a little more than a year, until his January 2016 firing, which came after it was discovered he fabricated sources and quotes in his stories.
Kim said that Thompson started his “campaign of harassment” against his victim last year, after his victim ended their relationship. In July, Thompson sent an email to his victim’s employer, making false allegations about her, including claims that she had broken the law using an IP address that Thompson previously used to access his social media account. Later that year, an IP address traced back to Thompson’s residence was used to falsely report that his victim was in possession of child pornography.
According to Kim, Thompson also made at least a dozen fake threats to JCCs, using his victim’s name and birthday, claiming that she “was behind the bomb threats against Jews.”
Additionally, some of Thompson’s threats were made in his own name, in an effort to claim that his victim was actually attempting to frame him for a crime, Kim added.
“On or about Feb. 7, 2017, a JCC in Manhattan received an emailed bomb threat from an anonymous email that stated, ‘Juan Thompson (Thompson’s birthday) put two bombs in the office of the Jewish center today. He wants to create a Jewish (Newtown) tomorrow,” Kim stated, noting that “the emails use of the phrase 'Jewish (Newtown)' appeared to be a reference to a December 2012 shooting in Connecticut, in which a gunman murdered 26 victims.”
Earlier this year, a Twitter account used by Thompson was also used to accuse his victim of responsibility for several threats to JCCs, claiming that she was attempting to frame him for her alleged crimes.
“She, though I can’t prove it, even sent a bomb threat in my name to a Jewish center, which was odd given her antiseptic statements,” he posted. “I got a visit from the FBI, so now I’m battling the racist FBI and this vile, evil, racist white woman.”
Thompson pleaded guilty to cyberstalking and making hoax threats, which each carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison. He is scheduled to appear in court for sentencing in September.
“Fueling fear and distress, Juan Thompson made fake bomb threats to over a dozen Jewish Community Centers and organizations around the country," Kim said. "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. Thompson’s threats not only inflicted emotional distress on his victim, but also harmed Jewish communities around the country. Thanks to the dedicated work of the FBI and NYPD, Thompson will now be held to account for his crimes.”