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New York Attorney Called in Bomb Threat to Daycare
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Summary: A Syracuse attorney called in a bomb threat at the daycare courthouse so she could avoid going before a judge in a civil case against her.

Syracuse attorney Jacqueline Jones was due in court to defend her conduct to a judge. To avoid this, she called the federal courthouse’s daycare center from a public phone to deliver a bomb threat.

  
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Jones, 47, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor third-degree falsely reporting an incident for her actions. Her threat to the Children’s Beginnings Day Care Center on February 20, 2015, set the entire Hanley Federal Building into disorder. The daycare is on the first floor of the courthouse. A stay-in place order was established for 600 people in the building so the parents of 70 children in the daycare were able to go and collect them.

Jones admitted that she made the call from the Regional Transportation Center in order to avoid a contentious hearing that afternoon where she was going to be sanctioned.

Jones was ordered to pay a $20,000 fine but will not have to spend any time behind bars. Magistrate Judge Therese Wiley Danks also gave Jones probation for one year. Prosecutors had recommended six months behind bars and a $15,000 fine with six months of probation but Wiley Danks escalated the fine and dropped the jail time. She gave Jones 90-days to pay the fine. The recommended fine for her charge is $5,000.

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Investigators were able to determine Jones made the call by tracking the phone call to the daycare from the transportation center. From surveillance footage, they were able to identify Jones and her car. She apparently tried to write a letter to the judge she was supposed to appear before that contained false information to cover up what she had done.

The daycare workers wanted Jones to serve time in jail. The worker explained that the threat caused severe anguish to those involved. She said after she answered the phone call, she called her husband to tell him she loved him, noting it was the scariest day of her life. She told reporters that she searched closets and drawers inside the daycare assuming she would find a bomb all while trying to stay calm for the young children.



Since the incident, the daycare center has had several families not return and still has to explain to potential families what happened two years ago. She said, “The day the call came into our center – that’s completely changed us. The worst thing a parent could ever possibly hear happened.”

Prosecutors were seeking jail time in hopes of deterring others from making similar threats. Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Southwick discussed that Jones was a highly-educated adult that should have known there would be serious consequences for her actions. He questioned why she chose a daycare instead of another federal agency inside the building. She had to know that picking a daycare would cause the most fear possible.

Her defense attorney Edward Menkin argued that Jones is under extreme stress. He asked for the reason for making the call to be separated from the severity of the consequences. He admitted that she was “selfish” and “tragically short-sighted” for causing such terror in others. He noted that Jones is a mother of an 11-year-old boy and was currently receiving treatment for mental health issues.

Jones explained to the judge that she was sorry for what she had done. She said, “I’m simply horrified by the upset I caused that day.” Her actions “derailed her life and will continue to haunt me.”

Jones is expecting to lose her law license, which is already “delinquent” according to the New York state court system since she had not re-registered. Her sentence requires her to complete counseling, even inpatient service if recommended by a mental health professional. Wiley Danks said, “I want you to get better.”

Wiley Danks explained that this was the first time she had to sentence an attorney. She understands the stress that attorneys often face but that other professions deal with stress too. Jones is no longer employed after losing her job at MacKenzie Hughes law firm and her husband recently closed down his business.

Do you think Jones fully understood what would happen by calling in a threat to the daycare? Tell us in the comments below.

To learn more about bomb threats, read these articles:

Photo: flickr.com



 

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