2 Navy contractors charged in San Diego bomb hoax cases
Two Navy contractors have been charged in connection with separate bomb hoaxes reported at San Diego Naval Base and an adjacent shipyard earlier this year.
The scrawled threats, two in a string of at least 25 since November 2015, shut down the ships and piers where they were found.
In the first case, Joshua Rice, 26, is accused of reporting to security personnel that he spotted the word “bomb” written inside a portable toilet near three vessels docked at a San Diego Naval Base pier on May 17.
Prosecutors say Rice knew there was no threat. He was a contractor for American Marine, a ship repair company.
In an unrelated instance on Sept. 24, Roberto Rubio, 22, is suspected of writing “9-24-16 400 bomb” on an interior wall of the guided missile cruiser Cowpens, which was undergoing work at BAE Systems’ shipyard.
According to the U.S. attorney’s office, Rubio then told another contractor about the threat that he knew was fake.
Rubio was a BAE Systems-contracted welder.
Both Rice and Rubio were arrested Wednesday.
Gunnar Newquist, special agent in charge of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service in San Diego, told the Union-Tribune in June that the motive behind the hoaxes likely was to get time off or burden a boss or co-worker.
After a threat is reported, naval security officers and bomb-sniffing dogs sweep the area until it is deemed safe. Navy officials have said the hours-long process halts ship repair work and has the potential to impact Navy readiness.
“Everyone should know that making false bomb threats is taken very seriously by federal law enforcement, and it is a felony offense,” U.S. Atty. Laura Duffy said in a statement. “This is not a legal or smart way of getting out of work.”
Hernandez writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.
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