Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Defendant Pleads Guilty to Making Bomb Threats to the Atlanta Housing Authority

MICHAEL EZZARD, 47, of Atlanta, Georgia, pleaded guilty September 15, 2009, in federal district court to four counts of threatening to use a bomb to kill employees of the Atlanta Housing Authority (“AHA”) and to damage and destroy AHA buildings.

Acting United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said of the case, “These threats struck fear in the hearts of the AHA employees who were forced to quickly evacuate the building and caused great disruption to the surrounding businesses. It also forced local law enforcement to waste valuable time and manpower responding to this hoax. These are serious crimes.”

According to Acting United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: EZZARD made four telephonic bomb threats to the AHA. On January 22, 2009, EZZARD called the AHA and stated there was a bomb in the building and that he was going to “kill everybody down there.” The threat required AHA to immediately evacuate their offices and also required that law enforcement respond and search the entire building. Pedestrian and vehicular traffic in the streets surrounding the AHA also were blocked. All of the AHA employees were kept outside of the building for approximately three hours. On January 23, 2009, EZZARD made a second telephonic bomb threat to the AHA. He stated that there were four bombs in the building and that he was going to blow up the whole building.

Then on January 26, 2009, EZZARD made a third telephonic bomb threat to the AHA. He stated there were three bombs in the building and that “we’re going to kill everybody down there at Atlanta Housing Authority.” Later that same day, while under surveillance by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, EZZARD made his fourth and final telephonic bomb threat to the AHA. He stated that “we have a bomb in the building” and we are going to “kill everybody down there.” Agents obtained an arrest warrant and arrested EZZARD shortly thereafter.

EZZARD was indicted on February 24, 2009, on four counts of making telephonic bomb threats. Today he pleaded guilty to all four counts. He could receive a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000,000. In determining the actual sentence, the Court will consider the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders.

Sentencing for EZZARD is now scheduled for December 1, 2009, at 10:00 a.m. before United States District Judge Charles A. Pannell, Jr.

This case is being investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. Assistance in this case is also being provided by the Atlanta Police Department’s Detective Division.

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