CHICAGO (CN) – A federal jury convicted an Iowa machinist of mailing two pipe bombs to investment firms, and a dozen threatening letters signed “The Bishop,” in a plan to drive up the value of stock he owned.
John Tomkins, 47, of Dubuque, was convicted of using a destructive device in mailing a threat, possessing two unregistered devices, and nine counts of mail threats. He faces a maximum sentence of 230 years in prison.
Tomkins wrote threatening letters to investment firms and advisers, some of which he signed “The Bishop,” and others ending with “Tic Toc.”
He sent the letters from May 2005 to July 2006, sometimes citing the Unabomber or noting how easy it is to kill someone. The pipe bombs were mailed with letters stating “Bang!! You’re Dead,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
Other letters demanded a rally in the stock price of Navarre Corp., or that the price of 3Com stock be raised to $6.66 by a certain date.
Tomkins mailed two pipe bombs from a post office in northwest Chicago in January 2007, prosecutors said. One was addressed to Janus Small Cap in Denver, and one to a person at American Century in Kansas City, Mo. “Each parcel contained a letter stating, in part, “Bang!! You’re dead,” prosecutors said.
At trial, Tomkins insisted that the bombs were never intended to detonate, but an expert testified that the pipe bombs “were functional, even though the firing circuit was not fully connected, and they were capable of exploding as a result of jostling or impact and causing serious injury or death to persons near the explosion,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.