CORPUS CHRISTI, TX—Erasmo Luna, 26, of Robstown, Texas, has pleaded guilty to persuading or inducing another to use a telephone to communicate bomb threats to the Valero Refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.
At a hearing today before U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, Luna admitted he convinced his cousin Jose Padilla to make a series of calls to the Valero Refinery claiming there was a bomb on refinery property. At a previous hearing, Padilla admitted that at approximately 3:15 p.m. on October 25, 2011, he relayed to an individual at the Valero Refinery via telephone that “there’s a bomb in complex six.” Padilla called the refinery a second time, at 3:20 p.m., and again six minutes later. Padilla reported, “There’s a bomb in complex six and seven.” Luna, who was working at the refinery, admitted he wanted Padilla to call in the threat so he could leave work early.
Luna also acknowledged he asked Padilla to call in a second threat on October 28, 2011. At 6:08 a.m., Padilla called the Valero Refinery and claimed, “There’s a bomb in complex six. It’s going to blow up between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m.” When the Valero employee tried to ask him a question about the bomb, he replied with profanity and added that the “bomb is going to go, and you need to clear complex six.” Luna agreed he asked Padilla to make the threatening call on that occasion as a favor because Luna was late for work.
In response to the threats Valero security, law enforcement personnel and bomb detection dogs were dispatched and the FBI began an investigation. Padilla, 19, also of Robstown, has pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing. He remains in custody pending that hearing.
Following Luna’s plea, the judge returned Luna to the custody of the United States Marshals Service to await sentencing, scheduled on September 20, 2012 at 1:30 p.m. At that time, Luna faces up to five years in federal prison and a fine of up to $125,000. Following any sentence of incarceration, Luna may additionally be assessed a period of up to three years of federal supervised release.
The case was investigated by the FBI with the assistance of the Nueces County Sheriff’s Office and the Robstown Police Department and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert D. Thorpe, Jr.