DEER PARK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Home Depot employee has been arrested on charges he tried to extort $2 million from the company by planting a bomb at a Long Island store, prosecutors said Thursday.
Deer Park resident Daniel Sheehan, 50, was arrested Wednesday.
According to a criminal complaint, an anonymous letter was sent to a Home Depot store in Huntington telling the store manager that a bomb had been hidden in the store’s lighting department.
The letter demanded $2 million or the sender will “Shut down all [Home Depot’s] LI stores on Black Friday,” the complaint said.
It also claimed that the sender was ready to “detonate 3 devices in 3 different stores remotely via trac fone,” the complaint said.
Police were called and the store, which had about 50 people inside at the time, was evacuated.
Once everyone was out, authorities searched the store and eventually found the device in the lighting department, prosecutors said.
It was removed and then detonated in a safe area. The FBI later determined that it was in fact a “functioning pipe bomb” and that whoever built it had some expertise in building explosive devices, the complaint said.
The sender of the letter gave a date and time at which he would call Home Depot and give instructions on how to send money, according to the complaint.
Sheehan then used an anonymous number to call the Home Depot and demanded $2 million, prosecutors said.
A few days later however, the store received a second letter demanding a lower amount of $1 million be paid on Oct. 26, prosecutors said.
That letter said the sender would show up at the money drop off site “wired up like a Christmas tree” with “2 devices strapped to a belt and 1 to a neck chain that I will be wearing, wired together and attached to a ‘deadman’ switch in my hand,” according to the complaint.
Then on Oct. 26, Home Depot got a call from a man who said “…this is the guy with the letters … you have a lot of show of force there today, dozens of cops everywhere … I’m very angry right now, I’ll send you a letter, we’ll do this again,” the complaint states.
Investigators said they were eventually able to track the calls to Sheehan who was then arrested.
According to the complaint, Sheehan “admitted that he had attempted to extort money from the Home Depot” as well as “admitted to building and placing the pipe bomb in the Home Depot.”
Prosecutors said he also admitted to sending the ransom letters and placing the calls to the store.
“As alleged in the criminal complaint, Sheehan put lives at risk and tried to hold the people of Long Island hostage to his extortionate demands,” U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement. “There is no bargaining to be had with human life, and the only payout Sheehan will receive will be the full measure of justice for his actions.”
“The scheme caused economic loss, was a huge drain on law enforcement resources, and threatened the safety of untold numbers of innocent people, any one of which is unacceptable,” FBI Acting Assistant Director-in-Charge Mary Galligan said in a statement.
Sheehan, who worked at a Home Depot in Deer Park, is charged with attempted extortion. He’s set to appear in court on Thursday.
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