Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that JASON PAUL SMITH pled guilty in Manhattan federal court today to communicating a hoax threat to bomb the Statue of Liberty that resulted in the evacuation of more than 3,200 people from Liberty Island in New York Harbor. SMITH pled guilty to a one-count Indictment before U.S. District Judge Vernon S. Broderick.
According to the criminal Complaint, Indictment, other documents filed in federal court, and statements made at various proceedings in this case, including today’s guilty plea:
On April 24, 2015, SMITH initiated a call to the emergency 911 system (the “911 Call”) from his iPad using a service that assists hearing-impaired individuals with making and receiving telephone calls (the “Service”). In the 911 Call, SMITH identified himself as “Abdul Yasin,” described himself as an “ISI terrorist,” and threatened that “we” are preparing to “blow up” the Statue of Liberty.
Law enforcement officers responded to the threat that SMITH conveyed in the 911 Call, and conducted a sweep of the areas in and around the Statue of Liberty and Liberty Island with the aid of canine units trained to detect explosives. Canine units alerted in the vicinity of the visitor lockers at the base of the Statue of Liberty, prompting law enforcement officers and emergency responders to evacuate the more than 3,200 people who were on Liberty Island at the time. Later, the threat conveyed by SMITH was determined to be unfounded.
The iPad registered in SMITH’s name has used the Service to make other 911 calls, including at least two calls in May 2015 from a user who identified himself as “Isis allah Bomb maker” and who threatened to attack Times Square and kill police officers at the Brooklyn Bridge.
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SMITH, 42, pled guilty to one count of conveying false and misleading information and hoaxes, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. The maximum penalty is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge. SMITH is scheduled to be sentenced on September 6, 2016, at 11:00 a.m., before Judge Broderick.
Mr. Bharara praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (“FBI”) New York Joint Terrorism Task Force – which principally consists of agents from the FBI and detectives from the New York City Police Department. Mr. Bharara also thanked the United States Park Police for its assistance.
The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney David Zhou is in charge of the prosecution.