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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, June 23, 2020

East Longmeadow Man Indicted on Charges of Attempted Arson at Longmeadow Senior Health Care Facility

Incendiary device was placed at entrance of Jewish Geriatric Services Lifecare, Inc., a Jewish-sponsored senior health care organization

BOSTON – An East Longmeadow man was indicted today by a federal grand jury in connection with an attempted arson at a Longmeadow senior health care facility in April 2020.

John Michael Rathbun, 36, was indicted on one count of attempting to transport or receive explosive devices in interstate or foreign commerce with the knowledge or intent that the device will be used to kill, injure, or intimidate any individual or unlawfully to damage or destroy any building, vehicle and one count of attempting to maliciously damage or destroy, by means of fire or an explosive, any building, vehicle, or other real or personal property used in interstate or foreign commerce. On April 15, 2020, Rathbun was arrested and charged by criminal complaint; he has been detained in federal custody since April 17, 2020.

According to the indictment, on the morning of April 2, 2020, police discovered a homemade incendiary device next to the driveway entrance – and within feet of a widely used pedestrian walkway – to Jewish Geriatric Services Lifecare, Inc. (“JGS”), a nonprofit organization in Longmeadow, Mass. whose mission is to provide health, education, and social services guided by Jewish traditions and values. The device consisted of a 5-gallon Scepter fuel canister, approximately one-third filled with gasoline, and a partially charred Christian religious pamphlet placed in the nozzle of the canister.

Anyone with questions or information about this case can contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office at (888) 221-6023.  

The charge of attempting to transport or receive explosive devices in interstate or foreign commerce with the knowledge or intent that the device will be used to kill, injure, or intimidate any individual or unlawfully to damage or destroy any building, vehicle, or other real or personal property provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The charge of attempting to maliciously damage or destroy, by means of fire or an explosive, any building, vehicle, or other real or personal property used in interstate or foreign commerce provides for a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and a maximum of 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.     

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling and Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Feld Division made the announcement today. The investigation was led by the FBI’s Western Massachusetts Joint Terrorism Task Force with valuable assistance also provided by the Longmeadow and East Longmeadow Police Departments and the Massachusetts State Police. Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven H. Breslow of Lelling’s Springfield Branch Office and Trial Attorney Risa Berkower of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division are prosecuting the case. 

The details contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. 

Topic(s): 
Civil Rights
Component(s): 
Updated June 23, 2020