Two US Navy contractors were taken into custody and charged after giving false information concerning two separate bomb threats made at Naval Base San Diego in California.
22-year-old Roberto Rubio and 26-year-old Joshua Rice were arrested yesterday and charged in connection to two separate incidents that forced mass evacuations aboard Navy ships and their pier they were docked at.
The situation originally unfolded after Rice told authorities that he found the word “bomb” written inside of a porta-potty located near three Naval vessels on May 17th of this year. The hoax prompted military K-9 officers and other response teams to scour the area while nearby ships and facilities were evacuated. The area sweep was called off a few hours later after no bomb was found.
At the time of the incident, Rice had been working as a contractor for American Marine. He is scheduled to appear in court on January 30, 2017.
In another -and separate incident- Rubio was charged with scrawling “9-24-16 400 bomb” on a wall aboard the USS Cowpens on the same date he had written. The writing elicited a response from security forces, resulting in the ship’s evacuation until the scene was declared safe.
Rubio worked as a welder for BAE Systems and was reported to have worked for the company from August 2015 to October 2016. He is expected to head into the courtroom on January 9, 2017.
BAE Systems spokesman Karl Johnson said the company “will continue to cooperate with authorities going forward.”
Naval Base San Diego has seen a rash of bomb threats, with over 32 hoaxes reported since November. All the threats have been made in similar ways -scribbled on walls or portable toilets- and reportedly have caused a major security headache for the US Navy.
“Everyone should know that making false bomb threats is taken very seriously by federal law enforcement, and it is a felony offense,” US Attorney Laura Duffy said in a prepared statement.
Meanwhile, the prosecution sees the bomb threats as a way to get out of work early.
“Our biggest concern is we don’t want someone doing it because they think it is an easy way to get off work we want people to understand it is a serious crime,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Pettit.
NBC San Diego reports that if convicted, Rice and Rubio could both face five years in prison and fines up to $250,000.
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