North Smithfield Man Detained on Cyberstalking Charges
Allegedly threatened to harm or kill a former girlfriend, her parents and three prosecutors
PROVIDENCE, RI – A North Smithfield, R.I., man who recently relocated from Texas to Rhode Island has been ordered detained in federal custody in Rhode Island for allegedly cyberstalking and threatening to harm or kill a former girlfriend, her parents and three prosecutors in Texas.
Howard S. Bishop, 38, arrested by FBI agents on Tuesday, was ordered detained by U.S. District Court Magistrate Lincoln D. Almond yesterday on a two-count criminal complaint charging him with transmitting in interstate commerce communications containing threats to injure another person, and with harass or intimidate another person, using an interactive computer service or electronic communication service, that placed a person in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury and caused substantial emotional distress.
Bishop’s arrest and detention are announced by United States Attorney Stephen G. Dambruch and Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division.
According to court records, in February 2011, a former girlfriend of Bishop obtained a protective order against Bishop in Travis County, TX. In January 2012, Bishop was found guilty of violating the order and received a sentence of two years’ probation.
According to court documents, in September 2017, Bishop returned to Rhode Island where his family resides. In December 2017, a misdemeanor warrant was issued in Travis County for the arrest of Bishop for allegedly violating the protective order.
It is alleged in court documents, beginning in November 2016 and continuing until his arrest in Rhode Island on Tuesday, Bishop sent hundreds of harassing and threatening messages via the Internet to his former girlfriend and her family, and to three Travis County, TX, prosecutors involved in the prosecution of Bishop for violating the protective order. All of the individuals expressed extreme fear for their safety. Prior to Bishop’s arrest, the former girlfriend was in hiding with the assistance of the FBI. The woman’s family hired armed security guards to protect their home. The prosecutors expressed to the FBI that they believed their lives were at risk.
A criminal complaint is merely an allegation and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Transmitting in interstate commerce communications containing threats to injure another person, and with harass or intimidate another person using an interactive computer service or electronic communication service, that placed a person in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury and caused substantial emotional distress are each punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison, a fine of $250,000 and 3 years supervised release.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee H. Vilker.
The matter was investigated by the FBI.