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Press Release

California Man Pleads Guilty to Making Threatening Calls

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts
Defendant claimed to be hiding in a dorm room at Tufts University with taser and pistol

BOSTON – A California man pleaded guilty today to making threatening communications to the Tufts University Police Department (TUPD) in May 2021.

Sammy Sultan, 49, of Hayward, Calif., pleaded guilty to one count of making threats in interstate commerce before U.S. District Court Judge Leo T. Sorokin who scheduled sentencing for Feb. 3, 2023. Sultan was arrested and charged by criminal complaint on March 31, 2022 and subsequently charged by an Information on Oct. 21, 2022.

On or about May 28, 2021, Sultan made eight phone calls to TUPD, six of which included specific threats. During the calls, which collectively lasted about an hour, Sultan claimed to be hiding beneath a bed in a dorm room with a taser and pistol somewhere on campus. Sultan stated that he intended to use the taser if a woman returned to the dorm room and discovered him hiding. During the calls, Sultan played the sounds of a taser activating and a pistol racking – a pistol’s chamber being emptied and reloaded.

TUPD and local police carried out a room-by-room search of numerous buildings on Tufts University’s Medford campus but failed to locate the caller. A subsequent investigation of electronic evidence determined that Sultan had made the calls from California. A law enforcement officer familiar with Sultan’s voice from a prior investigation recognized Sultan’s voice on the TUPD call recordings.

Sultan previously pleaded guilty in December 2017 in the Northern District of California to making hundreds of obscene and harassing phone calls to law enforcement agencies, for which he was sentenced to two years in prison.

The charge of making threatening communications in interstate commerce provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.

United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins and Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division made the announcement today. Valuable assistance in the investigation was provided by the Tufts University Police Department; Massachusetts State Police; Illinois State Police; and the Medford, Somerville, North Andover, Malden and Peabody Police Departments. Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy H. Kistner of Rollins’ National Security Unit is prosecuting the case.

Updated November 7, 2022