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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Florida

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Panama City Man Pleads Guilty in Terrorist Hoax Case

PANAMA CITY, FLORIDA – Johnathon Mathew Garrett, 36, of Panama City, Florida, pled guilty late yesterday to giving false information to the Social Security Administration (SSA) by claiming that he was planning to blow up the Social Security Office located at 97 Oak Avenue, Panama City, Florida.  The plea was announced today by Pamela C. Marsh, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.

During his plea, Garrett admitted that, on August 27, 2014, he called an SSA employee and threatened to “blow the whole thing up and destroy something.”  The SSA employee understood this comment to be a bomb threat against the SSA office.  Garrett was attempting to intimidate the SSA employee into restoring his social security disability benefits.  As a result of his threat, the SSA office in Panama City and the surrounding block were evacuated until the area could be cleared by a bomb-detection team.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with the assistance of the Panama City Police Department and Bay County Sheriff’s Office.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Gayle E. Littleton.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 15, 2015, at 9:45 a.m., before United States District Judge Richard Smoak at the United States Courthouse, 30 West Government Street, Panama City, Florida.  Garrett faces a maximum of five years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, a term of supervised release of three years, and a court-ordered reimbursement for the cost associated with investigative response.

The United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General.  The office strives to protect and serve the citizens of the Northern District of Florida through the ethical, vigorous, and impartial enforcement of the laws of the United States, to defend the national security, to improve the safety and quality of life in our communities through the protection of civil rights, and to protect the public funds and financial assets of the United States.  To access public court documents online, please visit the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida website.  For more information about the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Florida, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/fln/index.html.

Updated May 8, 2015