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Press Release

Former Northeastern University Employee Convicted of Staging a Hoax Explosion and Making False Statements to a Federal Agent

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts

BOSTON – A former Northeastern University employee was convicted today by a federal jury in Boston of staging a hoax explosion and making false statements to a federal law enforcement agent about the hoax.

Jason Duhaime, 46, formerly of San Antonio, was convicted of intentionally conveying false and misleading information related to an explosive device and two counts of making materially false statements to a federal law enforcement agent. United States Senior District Court Judge William G. Young scheduled sentencing for Oct. 2, 2024. Duhaime was initially arrested and charged by criminal complaint on Oct. 2, 2022, and subsequently indicted by a federal grand jury Duhaime on Oct. 27, 2022.

“Bomb hoaxes like the one the defendant fabricated here have real life consequences. Communities are put in fear, law enforcement personnel are diverted from other important duties and there are significant financial repercussions,” said Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy. “As we experience a wave of bomb hoaxes in schools, houses of worship and other gathering places, we will work closely with our local, state and federal partners to hold accountable anyone who tries to inject fear and distress into our community.”

“Staging a hoax explosion and lying to the FBI about it isn’t a harmless act. It’s a crime,” said Jodi Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division. “The FBI and our partners take all threats to life seriously because protecting human life is our absolute priority. Anyone who pulls a stunt like this should expect the FBI to investigate and you should consider whether you really want to end up where Jason Duhaime is now awaiting sentencing for three federal felonies.”
As of September 2022, Duhaime was employed as the New Technology Manager and Director of the Immersive Media Lab (the “Lab”) at Northeastern University (“Northeastern”).  At approximately 7:00 p.m. on Sept. 13, 2022, Duhaime called the Northeastern Police Department and reported that he was injured by sharp objects expelled from a plastic case he opened inside the Lab that evening.  Specifically, Duhaime told an emergency police dispatcher that he and a Northeastern student who was working in the Lab that evening had collected several packages—including two plastic “Pelican cases”—from a mail area and brought them into the Lab.  Duhaime said that when he opened one of the cases inside a storage closet, “very sharp” objects flew out of the case and under his shirt sleeves, causing injuries to his arms. Duhaime also reported that the case contained an anonymous “violent note” threatening to “destroy the lab” and stating: “In the case you got today we could have planted explosives but not this time!!! Take notice!!! You have two months to take operations down or else!!!!! WE ARE WATCHING YOU.” 

Threat letter

Duhaime’s report and concern about a second, unopened Pelican case triggered a significant law enforcement response that included, among other things, the assistance of the Boston Police Department’s bomb squad, the assistance of multiple federal and state law enforcement agencies, and the evacuation of a portion of the Northeastern campus.   

In statements to first responders and in subsequent interviews with law enforcement on both Sept. 13 and 14, 2022, Duhaime provided statements about the incident that were consistent with what he told the emergency police dispatcher. He expressly denied fabricating his story about the Pelican case, the anonymous threat letter, and the injuries to his arms. 

During a search of Duhaime’s office at Northeastern on Sept. 14, 2022, several laptop computers were found. A subsequent forensic examination of one of the computers revealed a word-for-word electronic copy of the anonymous threat letter that Duhaime claimed was inside the Pelican case. According to evidence presented during the trial, this electronic copy of the threat letter was created and printed between approximately 2:50 p.m. and 3:56 p.m. on Sept. 13, 2022 – just hours before he reported the incident to the Northeastern Police Department. 

The charges of intentionally conveying false and misleading information related to an explosive device and making materially false statements to a federal law enforcement agent each provide for a sentence of up to five years in prison, up to 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.

Acting U.S. Attorney Levy; FBI SAC Cohen; Michael A. Davis, Vice President of Campus Security and Chief of Police at Northeastern University; Michael J. Krol, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New England; Ketty Larco-Ward, Inspector in Charge of the Boston Field Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox made the announcement today. This investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) in cooperation with the Northeastern University Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jason A. Casey and Timothy H. Kistner of the National Security Unit are prosecuting the case.

Updated June 28, 2024