United States Attorney Deborah R. Gilg announced that on July 17, 2012, Ronald T. Martell, age 56 of Omaha, was sentenced by the Honorable Lyle E. Strom, Senior United States District Judge, to a sentence of time served following his conviction for using a telephone to make a bomb threat. Martell will now serve three years on supervised release. He was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $25,219.58 to the Union Pacific Railroad.
On January 6, 2012, an anonymous male caller placed a call at 8:49 p.m. that was connected to the Pottawattamie County, Iowa, 911-center. The caller said he had placed three bombs in the Union Pacific railroad yard in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The call resulted in a shutdown of the yard with searches conducted of the premises. No explosives were located. Rail service into and out of the railroad yards was shut down during the searches, and rail traffic was diverted to other routes.
On January 14, 2012, at 4:40 a.m., the same caller placed another call that was connected to the Douglas County, Nebraska, 911-center. This time the caller gave a false name, and he again said he had placed several explosive devices in the Council Bluffs railroad yard and was going to kill “them,” without specifying anyone in particular. Once again, the yard was shut down and searched. No explosives were located. Rail service into and out of the railroad yard was shut down during the searches, and rail traffic was diverted to other routes.
Both 911 calls were recorded. The caller had a distinctive voice, and certain employees of the rail yard were allowed to listen to the recordings. Ronald T. Martell, an employee of a subcontractor for the Union Pacific Railroad, was preliminarily identified by investigators through interviews conducted of persons familiar with his voice.
Investigators obtained search warrants for Martell’s home. Martell was contacted by agents and interviewed. Martell admitted to placing both telephonic threats. He reported he was mad at his employer over work issues, and the threats were his way of getting back at the company. During a search of Martell’s vehicle, the cell phone used to make the calls was located in his truck.
This matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Union Pacific Railroad Police.