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Published On: Wed, May 15th, 2019

California Man, Robert Chain Pleads Guilty to Making Violent Threats Against Boston Globe Employees

A California man pleaded guilty today in federal court in Boston in connection with making violent threats against Boston Globe employees in retaliation for the newspaper’s editorial response to political attacks on the media.

Robert D. Chain, 68, of Encino, Calif., pleaded guilty to seven counts of making threatening communications in interstate commerce. U.S. District Court Judge William G. Young scheduled sentencing for Sept. 23, 2019.

On Aug. 10, 2018, the Boston Globe announced that it was requesting other newspaper publications around the country to publish a coordinated editorial response to political attacks on the media. The coordinated editorial response was to be published on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018.

Public domain image/Pablo Neo

Immediately following the announcement, Chain began making threatening calls to the Boston Globe’s newsroom. In the calls, Chain referred to the Globe as “the enemy of the people” and threatened to kill newspaper employees. In total, Chain made approximately 14 phone calls to the Globe between Aug. 10 and 22, 2018.

On Aug. 16, 2018, the day the coordinated editorial response was published in the Boston Globe, Chain called the Globe newsroom and threatened to shoot Globe employees in the head “later today, at 4 o’clock.” As a result of that call, local law enforcement responded to the Globe’s offices and maintained a presence outside the building to ensure the safety of the employees.

The charge of making threatening communications in interstate commerce provides for a sentence of no greater than five years, one year of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling and Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division, made the announcement today. Valuable assistance was provided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Los Angeles Field Division; the Drug Enforcement Administration, Los Angeles Division; the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Los Angeles Division; the California Highway Patrol; the Los Angeles Police Department; and the Boston Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney George P. Varghese of Lelling’s National Security Unit is prosecuting the case.

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