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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Rhode Island

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 21, 2018

Rhode Island Man Sentenced for Cyberstalking

Howard Bishop engaged in an endless pattern of abusive and threatening behavior toward a former girlfriend and her family, causing the woman to be taken into protective custody

PROVIDENCE, RI – A North Smithfield, R.I., man who repeatedly sent emails and text messages to a former girlfriend threatening, in specific and horrifying detail, to harm or kill her and her family was sentenced today to 41 months in federal prison on cyberstalking charges, announced United States Attorney Stephen G. Dambruch and Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division.

Howard S. Bishop, 39, was arrested in Rhode Island by FBI agents in January 2018, approximately four months after relocating from Texas to his family’s home in North Smithfield.

The threats from Bishop against his former girlfriend in Texas, and her family, were so severe that the woman was placed in FBI protective custody until Bishop was arrested. Her family hired around-the-clock armed security to guard their home.

At sentencing, U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith also ordered Bishop to serve 3 years supervised release upon completion of his term of incarceration. Bishop pleaded guilty in May to transmitting in interstate commerce communications containing threats to injure another person, and with harassing or intimidating 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.

The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines range of imprisonment in this matter is 33 – 41 months. The government recommended the Court impose a sentence of 41 months in prison.

According to court records, in February 2011, a former girlfriend of Bishop obtained a protective order against him in Travis County, TX, after their relationship ended. After the relationship ended, Bishop engaged in an endless pattern of abusive and threatening behavior towards the woman. 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 in January 2018, Bishop sent hundreds of harassing and threatening messages via the Internet to the former girlfriend and her family. They expressed extreme fear for their safety.

Bishop has been detained in federal custody since his arrest.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee H. Vilker.

The matter was investigated by the FBI.

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Topic(s): 
Cyber Crime
Contact: 
Jim Martin (401) 709-5357
Press Release Number: 
18-120
Updated September 25, 2018