Wednesday, August 22, 2012

District Man Admits Making Bomb Threats Against Amtrak

Threats Caused Delays That Affected More Than 1,000 Rail Passengers

WASHINGTON—Michael Jerome Dennis, 27, pled guilty today to a federal charge stemming from two separate bomb threats against the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak), announced U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr., James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; and Lisa Shahade, Assistant Chief of the Amtrak Police.

Dennis, of Washington, D.C., pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to a charge of threatening and conveying false information about an attempt or alleged attempt to use a destructive device. The charge carries a statutory maximum of life in prison. Under federal sentencing guidelines, it carries a likely range of 18 to 24 months in prison. Dennis is to be sentenced on November 9, 2012, by the Honorable Reggie B. Walton.

Dennis was arrested May 3, 2012, following an investigation by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), which includes members from various law enforcement agencies, including the Amtrak Police. According to a statement of facts, signed by the defendant as well as the government, Dennis made the threats in telephone calls to Amtrak’s National Communications Center on November 30, 2011 and January 19, 2012. Dennis pled guilty to a charge specifically relating to the phone threat of November 30, 2011.

At the time of the threats, Dennis was working for a contractor at a site near the Amtrak bridge on New York Avenue NE, Washington, D.C., just north of Union Station. The bridge was the target of both of the defendant’s threats. All Amtrak trains from the Northeast Corridor that come into and out of Washington, D.C., must pass under this bridge.

As a result of both threats, police searched the bridge and surrounding area. During this time, six Amtrak trains were delayed, resulting in losses and delays for Amtrak, which also affected over 1,000 rail passengers.

In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Machen, Assistant Director in Charge McJunkin, and Assistant Chief Shahade praised the work of those who investigated the case. They also commended the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialist Katelyn Rowe, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Fernando Campoamor-Sanchez, who prosecuted the matter.

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