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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Pennsylvania

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 19, 2018

Texas Resident Pleads Guilty to Heinz Field Mass Shooting Threat

PITTSBURGH, PA – A resident of San Antonio, Texas, pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of Threatening Interstate Communications, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

Yuttana Choochongkol, a/k/a Jason Manotham, 40, pleaded guilty to one count before United States District Judge Nora Barry Fischer.

According to the guilty plea, on January 10 and 11, 2018, Choochongkol made three threats against the athletes and attendees of the National Football League Divisional Playoff Game on Sunday, January 14, 2018. Choochongkol used the internet to send threats to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania through the KDKA.com and Heinzfield.com “contact us” portals that he was going to engage in mass shootings and suicide at the game.

“Threats of mass violence cannot be tolerated and will be aggressively prosecuted,” said U. S. Attorney Scott Brady. “Nothing is more important than ensuring the safety of the community, including at large public events such as Steelers games. Choochongkol would not have been quickly identified and arrested without tremendous work in a very short time frame by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, Heinz Field Security and our Office, working with our counterparts in Texas.”

"I commend the work done by the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force to identify and apprehend Mr. Choochongkol quickly," said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Nick Boshears. "The members of the JTTF and its law enforcement partners are committed to bringing to justice those individuals who threaten our national security. We remain proactive in pursuing counter-terrorism cases because the risks involved are so great."

Judge Fischer scheduled the sentencing for November 27, 2018 at 1:00 p.m. The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 5 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney Paul E. Hull is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Yuttana Choochongkol.

Updated July 19, 2018