FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
For Information Contact:
District Man Sentenced to 20-Month Prison Term
For Making Bomb Threats Against Amtrak
- Threats Caused Delays That Affected More Than 1,000 Rail Passengers -
WASHINGTON – Michael Jerome Dennis, 27, was sentenced today to a 20-month prison term on 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 August 2012 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. He was sentenced by the Honorable Reggie B. Walton. Upon completion of his prison term, Dennis will be placed on five years of supervised release. During that time, he must perform 200 hours of community service. In addition, Judge Walton ordered Dennis to pay $5,002 in restitution to Amtrak and to undergo counseling.
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 Nov. 30, 2011 and Jan. 19, 2012. Dennis pled guilty to a charge specifically relating to the phone threat of Nov. 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.
“This case shows our determination to prosecute those who threaten our public transportation systems,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “This defendant’s actions raised serious safety concerns, led to delays, and commanded a significant amount of attention from law enforcement. His 20-month sentence should make people think twice before causing disruptions with misguided threats.”
“Although these bomb threats turned out to be hoaxes, the Joint Terrorism Task Force, including Amtrak Police, took the threats seriously and fully investigated them, resulting in a prison sentence,” said Assistant Director in Charge McJunkin. “False threats waste valuable law enforcement resources and in this instance delayed passengers traveling into Washington, D.C. as well as up and down the Northeast Corridor.”
In announcing the sentence, 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.