David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Kimberly K. Mertz, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, today announced that FRANK MENDOZA, 51, of Jacksonville, Florida, has been arrested and charged with federal stalking, domestic violence, and explosives offenses. It is alleged that MENDOZA stalked and threatened a woman and others for more than a year and, in December 2010, traveled from Florida to Connecticut and placed two acid bottle bombs in the victim’s car.
MENDOZA has been detained since his arrest in Jacksonville on August 17, 2012. On August 22, 2012, a federal grand jury sitting in Bridgeport returned an indictment charging MENDOZA with four counts of interstate stalking, one count of interstate domestic violence, and two counts of using an explosive in the commission of a felony.
MENDOZA appeared today before United States Magistrate Judge Donna F. Martinez in Hartford and entered a plea of not guilty to the charges.
“As alleged, this defendant planted acid-filled explosives intended to cause serious, disfiguring injuries to his victim,” stated U.S. Attorney Fein. “Last week marked the 18th Anniversary of the federal Violence Against Women Act, which has given the Department of Justice tools to prosecute domestic violence and stalking crimes. I commend the FBI JTTF in Connecticut and Florida, the Stamford Police Department, and all of our partner investigative agencies, who have worked to investigate this matter to secure justice and provide safety for the victims of this crime.”
“Today’s arrest is a warning to those who commit violent crimes that the FBI’s reach is far and wide,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Mertz. “The threatening and insidious nature of the crimes with which Mr. Mendoza is charged will not be tolerated and the FBI’s pursuit of justice will not be deterred. The day-to-day work of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces and their local, state, and federal partners often goes unheralded. This case is a great example of law enforcement working together to bring those charged with violent crimes to justice.”
The indictment alleges that, in 2008, MENDOZA began a romantic relationship with a woman (“Victim #1”) in Jacksonville, Florida. After approximately one year, MENDOZA’s abusive and threatening behavior caused Victim #1 to attempt to end the relationship. MENDOZA continued to threaten Victim #1, calling her repeatedly and leaving numerous threatening voice-mails. On one occasion in the spring of 2010, MENDOZA entered Victim #1’s apartment while she was sleeping and covered her in newspaper. Victim #1 awoke and found MENDOZA with a lighter threatening to set her on fire.
The indictment further alleges that, in approximately September 2010, as part of a ruse, Victim #1 and a friend (“Victim #2”) told MENDOZA that Victim #1 was temporarily moving to Rhode Island for a work-related training program. Victim #1 and Victim #2 then relocated from Florida to Stamford, Connecticut. In October 2010, MENDOZA learned that Victim #1 had moved to Connecticut and his threatening behavior continued. In October and November 2010, MENDOZA placed numerous harassing and threatening phone calls to Victim #1, Victim #2, and their male work colleague (“Victim #3”).
The indictment further alleges that, in early November 2010, MENDOZA traveled from Florida to Connecticut, visited Victim #1’s place of work and her and Victim #2’s apartment complex in Stamford, and then returned to Florida. Then, on December 8, 2010, MENDOZA flew from Florida to New York City, rented a car, drove with a family member to Victim #1’s Connecticut residence, and placed two acid bottle bombs in Victim #1’s car. At approximately 11:00 p.m. on December 8, 2010, Victim #1 approached her car and observed that the car’s interior had been dampened by a liquid. She also observed a two liter soda bottle on the driver’s side floor. When she picked the bottle up, it began to smoke and fizz. She then gently placed the bottle down and ran from the car. The bottle then exploded. Victim #1 immediately called the Stamford Police.
The investigation has revealed that the bottle that Victim #1 picked up and one that had exploded before Victim #1 reached the car had each contained acid.
If convicted, MENDOZA faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000 on each charge of interstate stalking and interstate domestic violence. The charge of using an explosive in the commission of a felony carries a mandatory 10-year consecutive prison term.
U.S. Attorney Fein stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This matter is being investigated by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces in New Haven and Jacksonville, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Connecticut State Police, the New Haven Police Department, the Stamford Police Department, the Stamford Bomb Squad, the Stamford Fire Department, and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Krishna Patel and Vanessa Richards.