A federal complaint has been unsealed charging Dante Phearse, 32, of Houston, with calling in bomb threats to two synagogues located in Houston, announced Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Roy L. Austin Jr. and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas Kenneth Magidson.
The sealed complaint was filed Thursday, May 16, 2013, and unsealed today. Phearse is expected to make an initial appearance in Houston tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Johnson. At that time, the government expects to request he be detained pending further criminal proceedings.
Phearse is charged with one count of using an instrument of interstate commerce to communicate a threat to destroy a building by means of an explosive device. The complaint and accompanying affidavit allege that on the evening of April 30, 2013, Phearse telephoned two different synagogues in Houston - Congregation Beth Israel and Congregation Or Ami - and left voice mails threatening to bomb the Jewish houses of worship on May 2, 2013.
A criminal complaint is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.
If convicted, Phearse faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 fine.
The case is being investigated by the Houston Police Department and the FBI. Trial Attorneys Saeed Mody and Nicholas Murphy of the Civil Rights Division and Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the Southern District of Texas Ruben R. Perez and Joe Magliolo are prosecuting.