05/29/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 05/29/2020 19:40
Rodney Allen, 43, of Beaufort, South Carolina, pleaded guilty today in federal court in Jacksonville, Florida, to one count of intimidating and interfering with the employees of an abortion clinic by making a bomb threat and one count of making false statements to a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
'Federal law makes it illegal to threaten to blow up people and to lie to the FBI about bomb threats,' said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband. 'The Civil Rights Division will continue to enforce the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act to protect all people in our nation from the kind of cowardly threat and lies that led to this case.'
'Healthcare facilities, and those who receive their services, should be able to operate free from fear of threats or harm,' said U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez from the Middle District of Florida. 'We will continue to work with our public safety partners to ensure that no one is prohibited from exercising their right to work or access to care.'
According to court documents, on August 29, 2019, Allen called the clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, and said that someone was coming to blow it up. Allen made several other calls to the clinic that day in an attempt to interfere with its ability to provide services. Employees recognized Allen's voice and were concerned that he would do something desperate, so they enlisted the help of a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office officer to search the property. The FBI obtained toll records and subscriber information for the number used to make the bomb threat to the clinic and positively identified Allen as the caller. In a voluntary and surreptitiously recorded interview with the FBI, Allen falsely denied calling the clinic and stating that someone was coming to blow it up.
This case was investigated by the FBI's Columbia and Jacksonville Divisions. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ashley Washington of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida and Trial Attorneys Sanjay Patel and Anna Gotfryd of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division are prosecuting the case.