A former journalist has pleaded guilty to cyberstalking and "making hoax bomb threats," the US Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York has said, after he was charged with making bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers and the Anti-Defamation League in a bizarre attempt to harass his former romantic partner.
Juan Thompson, 32, had pleaded not guilty to cyberstalking in April after he was arrested for calling in bomb threats to the ADL and JCCs around the country. In each instance, he used the name of his ex.
“Fueling fear and distress, Juan Thompson made fake bomb threats to over a dozen Jewish Community Centers and organizations around the country," acting US Attorney Joon Kim said in a statement.
"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," Kim said.
Thompson was arrested in St. Louis in March and extradited to New York City, where he was held without bail.
In addition to making threats against religious institutions, Thompson also sent emails to the employer of his former partner, identified only as a Manhattan social worker, which contained claims that the woman was in possession of child pornography. Thompson made further claims by email and on social media, including via a fake Twitter account, that the woman was behind the bomb threats. At times he would also use his own name as the person behind the bomb threats in an effort to frame the woman as the person behind the threats.
Thompson first made headlines when he was fired from online news outlet The Intercept for a false story about Dylann Roof. In his attempts to concoct a compelling narrative, Thompson created fake email accounts to impersonate sources and quotes. The Intercept issued corrections to many of Thompson's articles after his reporting was questioned.
Thompson pleaded guilty to one count of cyberstalking and one count of hoax threats, both of which carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Thompson is scheduled to be sentenced on September 15, 2017.
Juan Thompson wrote a false story about Dylann Roof. A previous version of this post misspelled Roof's name.