Providence VA Service Representative Indicted on Federal Extortion, Bribery, Witness Tampering Charges
PROVIDENCE, RI – A North Smithfield, R.I., man admitted in federal court today to cyberstalking and threatening to harm or kill his former girlfriend and her parents.
Appearing in U.S. District Court in Providence, Howard S. Bishop, 38, pleaded guilty to a two-count information 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 was arrested by FBI agents in Rhode Island in January 2018, approximately four months after moving from Texas to Rhode Island, where his family resides.
Bishop’s guilty plea before U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith is 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 him in Travis County, TX. In January 2012, Bishop was found guilty of violating the order and received a sentence of two years’ probation. In December 2017, a misdemeanor warrant was issued in Travis County for the arrest of Bishop for again violating the protective order.
According to court documents, beginning in November 2016, and continuing until his arrest in Rhode Island, Bishop sent hundreds of harassing and threatening messages via the Internet to a former girlfriend and her family in Texas. 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.
Bishop, who has been detained since his arrest on January 24, 2018, is scheduled to be sentenced on September 21, 2018.
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.