NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A disgraced former journalist from St. Louis had his first court appearance in Manhattan on Wednesday, on charges that he threatened a number of Jewish community centers to harass an ex-girlfriend.
As WCBS 880’s Kelly Waldron reported, Juan Thompson, 31, was dressed in a khaki button-down shirt and matching pants when he was read his rights and his charges against him in Manhattan U.S. District Court.
U.S. Magistrate Judge James Francis appointed attorney Mark Gombiner to represent Thompson.
Gombiner declined to make a bail argument, so Thompson will likely remain incarcerated until a hearing next week before a district judge.
Thompson was arrested earlier this month in St. Louis and was charged him in connection with a bomb threat to the ADL’s national headquarters last month. Prosecutors said he made threats to at least eight Jewish community centers, schools or other facilities.
He was charged with cyberstalking, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, authorities said.
READ THE FULL COMPLAINT (pdf)
According to a federal complaint, Thompson dated his ex-girlfriend until last summer. When they broke up, he allegedly started emailing ugly accusations to her employer, a New York City housing and social services agency.
Her boss received an email purporting to be from a national news organization saying that she’d been pulled over for drunken driving, officials said. She received an anonymous email with nude photos of herself and a threat to release them to the public, the complaint said. Her boss got a note saying she had a sexually transmitted disease. The company got anonymous faxes saying she was anti-Semitic. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children got a note saying the woman watched child porn.
The harassment got worse from there when Thompson started making threats against Jewish institutions in her name to portray her as an anti-Semite, federal officials said.
Federal authorities said Thompson made up an email address to make it seem like the woman was sending threats in his name in an effort to frame him.
For example, officials said in early February a JCC in Manhattan received an email bomb threat that read, “Juan Thompson put two bombs in the office of the Jewish center today. He wants to create Jewish newtown tomorrow.”
“Newtown” is a reference to the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School that claimed the lives of 26 educators and children.
Thompson was considered a copycat in a string of threats against Jewish community centers and other Jewish institutions dating back to January.
Last week, Israeli police arrested a 19-year-old Israeli Jewish man as the primary suspect in the threats.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)