You are here

Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, May 23, 2016

Inmate Charged with Plotting to Kill President

BOSTON – An inmate at Old Colony Correctional Center in Bridgewater, Mass. was charged today with threatening to kill the President of the United States.

Alex Hernandez, 31, of Worcester, was charged in U.S. District Court in Boston with two counts of threatening to kill and inflict bodily harm upon the President of the United States. 

According to the complaint, in March 2015, agents learned that Hernandez told another inmate who was working as a cooperating witness in the investigation, that he was upset about the way his people were being treated, wanted to become a mujahedeen, had the ability to obtain weapons upon release from prison, and wanted to kill the President in a lone-wolf style attack.  Hernandez also allegedly expressed an interest in obtaining false travel documents so he could flee the country after his attack. 

Based on these allegations, agents decided to introduce Hernandez to an undercover agent posing as an embassy contact who could assist Hernandez with obtaining false travel documents.  In November 2015, at the direction of federal agents, the cooperating witness provided Hernandez with a mailing address for his purported embassy contact.  In actuality, the mailing address was that of an undercover law enforcement post office box.  From that point on, Hernandez allegedly wrote two letters to the embassy contact.  In the second letter, Hernandez stated, “I am writing to you now to ask that you come see me.  I am a brother in faith, a martyr; and as a martyr I wish to fulfill Allah’s wishes and not to live among infidels.  The mujahedeen movement is hard but pure.  I need your help and I hope to meet you in person.”

According to the complaint, on Dec. 22 2015 and Feb. 12, 2016, the undercover agent posing as the embassy contact met with Hernandez at Old Colony Correctional Center.  During the first meeting, Hernandez allegedly stated he wanted to attack, “the house with the big people there.”  The agent inquired whether Hernandez meant the White House and Hernandez said he did.  When asked for additional details about his plan, Hernandez explained, “there is always a head.  He’s the one who’s always in charge.  So if you attack the head, everything will go down a little bit.”  Hernandez went on to say that he wanted to learn how to shoot “like a sniper,” and that he had a contact in Florida that had a firearm ready for him.  He also stated that he was studying how to make explosives that could be placed around government buildings to “create chaos.”  During the second meeting with the undercover agent, Hernandez allegedly discussed the motivation for his planned attacks – telling the agent that his brothers are “fighting to uphold the laws and structure of the caliphate in the Middle East” and that “this government . . . is painting it like they are the bad guys[.]”  Hernandez also allegedly explained that he wanted to target the President because “he’s the one that gives the orders[.]”   

Court documents also allege that over the course of the investigation, searches of Hernandez’s jail cell revealed several items of concern such as a document listing the former U.S. Presidents and containing the handwritten notation “kill” underneath all the U.S. Presidents that have been assassinated while in office, and images of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Osama Bin Laden, and members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) holding assault weapons and the ISIL flag.

The charging statute provides a sentence of no greater than five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.  Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties.  Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Stephen A. Marks, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service; and Thomas Turco, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Correction, made the announcement today.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jordi de Llano of Ortiz’s Major Crimes Unit.

Topic: 
Violent Crimes
Updated May 23, 2016