NEW YORK -- A former reporter who was fired for fabricating sources was arrested Friday and accused of making some of the bomb threats against the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center in La Jolla and other Jewish institutions around the country.
Juan Thompson, 31, was charged with one count of cyber-stalking for making at least eight threats as part of an campaign to harass a former girlfriend, according to a criminal complaint filed in the Southern District of New York.
Thompson allegedly targeted the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center on Feb. 20, according to the complaint. The center on Executive Drive received an email at 10:38 p.m. that day that said the ex-girlfriend, whose name was not made public, "put a bomb in the center" and intended to "kill as many Jews asap," among other things, according to the charging document.
Thompson is also suspected of making similar threats against other Jewish Community Centers, schools, other organizations that serve the Jewish community and the Anti-Defamation League in the victim's name, and in his own name to purport he was being framed. On or around Feb. 1, a Jewish school in Michigan received a bomb threat that claimed Thompson was "eager for a Jewish newtown," a reference to Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children were killed in a school shooting in 2012.
Thompson's harassment of the victim allegedly began after the two split up in July 2016. In addition to the bogus bomb threats, Thompson also threatened to make public nude photos of the victim, and alleged she was being sued for spreading a sexually transmitted disease and had possessed child pornography, according to the complaint.
Thompson faces a cyberstalking charge, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
The accusations against Thompson accounts for just a small minority of the 101 total bomb threats that have been received by Jewish institutions since 2017 began, according to data from the JCC Association of North America.
"No one has been arrested for making the nationwide robocall JCC threats," New York State Police's Beau Duffy said. "That's still an active FBI investigation."
The complaint alleges Thompson had emailed and phoned in threats to the Anti-Defamation League and other Jewish institutions.
Thompson made some of the threats in the victim's name, while others were made in his own name, according to the complaint. Thompson then claimed that those threats had actually been made by the victim in an attempt to frame him, the complaint alleges.
It could not be immediately determined if Thompson has an attorney.
Jewish community centers and schools have been the targets of a series of bomb threats made via telephone since 2017 began, sparking fears of rising anti-Semitism around the country.
Thompson's arrest, in St. Louis, was the result of the ongoing investigation into those bomb threats, officials said.
"Thompson's alleged pattern of harassment not only involved the defamation of his female victim, but his threats intimidated an entire community," FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said in a statement.
Thompson is the same individual who previously worked as a reporter for The Intercept, the online news publication, according to previous CNN reporting and a review of Thompson's Twitter account.
Several tweets from his Twitter account, @JuanMThompson, are referenced in the criminal complaint. That Twitter account is linked to articles bearing his byline at The Intercept.
Thompson was fired from the website in 2016 for fabricating quotes, The Intercept's editor-in-chief wrote at the time in a special note to readers. He had worked there from November 2014 until January 2016.
In one story, Thompson quoted a man he identified as the cousin of Dylann Roof, the man convicted of killing nine people at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina. Intercept editors retracted that story after members of Roof's family said they did not know of that cousin.