Juan Thompson appeared in a Manhattan federal courtroom Wednesday over allegations that he phoned in bomb threats to Jewish community centers to frame his ex-girlfriend.
Thompson, 31, appeared in khaki scrubs and white slip-on shoes just after 3:30 p.m., his arms hanging sullenly at his sides. He was arrested in Missouri on March 3, but arrived in New York on Wednesday morning, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacob Warren.
When Judge James Francis explained Thompson’s rights, Thompson leaned forward at the table, clasping his hands in front of his mouth.
Prosecutors say Thompson is the man behind a series of bomb threats to Jewish community centers and other organizations in January and February of this year. The threats were allegedly part of his master plan to cast the blame on his ex-girlfriend, and to accuse her of trying to frame him in the process. (An Israeli teenager is accused of sending other bomb threats to JCCs.)
She “is behind the bomb threats against jews,” Thompson allegedly wrote to an e-mail to the Anti-Defamation League’s office in Midtown Manhattan, according to the complaint. “She lives in nyc and is making more bomb threats tomorrow.”
The following day, a bomb threat was called into the ADL office.
In another incident, the mysterious tipster blamed Juan Thompson. Prosecutors say it was Thompson framing his girlfriend for framing him.
“Juan Thompson […] put two bombs in the office of the Jewish center today,” he supposedly wrote in one letter to a Manhattan JCC. “He wants to create Jewish newtown tomorrow.”
Thompson subsequently posted a Twitter message accusing the ex-girlfriend of framing him. The vicious tirade, published a week before he was arrested, was pinned to the top of his Twitter page.
“She seemed like a cool Brooklyn white radical,” he wrote, before accusing her of withholding sexual health information and making racially-charged statements against him.
“We broke up after someone showed me the light, and since then she’s stalked and harassed me. Threatened to have me killed, and said she was going to make me a prison ‘statistic’ and looked forward to me being ‘raped’ in prison,” he wrote. “She, thought I can’t prove it, even sent a bomb threat in my name to a Jewish center, which was odd given her anti-Semitic statements. I got a visit from the FBI.”
“So now I’m battling the racist FBI and this vile, evil, racist white woman. I’m afraid… we know what happens when white women use the law to go after black men.”
It has been favorited more than 180 times.
But prosecutors say IP addresses don’t lie, and the threats Thompson is charged were tracked using his IP addresses.
The alleged vendetta against his ex-girlfriend dates back to the summer of 2016, when prosecutors say Thompson first began his campaign against her. He had been fired from the journalism outfit, The Intercept, after revelations that he fabricated characters in his stories just months before.
He sent an email in June 2016 to his ex-girlfriend’s employer alleging that she’d broken the law, according to the criminal complaint, and that she was being sued for spreading a sexually transmitted disease.
Subsequent messages to the ex-girlfriend from people purporting to be Thompson’s friends or relatives allegedly claimed that he’d been shot and was being taken off life support, or that he’d written a check to compensate her for hurting her.
She eventually took out an order of protection against Thompson in August 2016, according to the complaint. But the harassing e-mails to her employer allegedly continued, and she received an email threatening to release nude photos of her to the public. Later faxes to the ex-girlfriend’s employer alleged that she was anti-semitic.
And Thompson allegedly even called in a tip that the ex-girlfriend watched child porn, which law enforcement also traced back to one of his IP addresses, according to the complaint.
When he was confronted by law enforcement, Thompson allegedly claimed that his email had been hacked. An NYPD detective told him to cut it out.
But he allegedly continued, escalating the harassment campaign to bomb threats.
In court on Wednesday, Warren requested that Thompson be held and Gombiner, the federal defender, reserved the right to make a bail application at a later date. He asked that text in Thompson’s detention paperwork about how he is not supposed to be held with people awaiting sentencing or serving their sentences be stricken.
“I don’t want it read as, ‘Mr. Thompson [should] be held in segregation,’” Gombiner said.
The judge agreed. Thompson’s next appearance is set for April.