On April 30, 2013, Dante Phearse, a 33 year old Houston man, called in a bomb threat to Houston's Congregation Beth Israel synagogue at 5600 N. Braeswood Blvd.
Following the threats, the Congregation Beth Israel school was closed for a day and they hired additional security to guard the synagogue and school. In the trial, it was claimed Phearse obstructed the synagogues' members in the enjoyment of the free exercise of their religious beliefs.
The Houston Police Department assisted the FBI investigation into the bomb threat.
The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Nicholas Murphy and Saeed Mody of the Civil Rights Division and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ruben Perez and Joe Magliolo, in cooperation with the Harris County District Attorney's Office.
"On April 28, 2014, Phearse pleaded guilty to the civil rights violation of threatening to bomb a synagogue and to making a telephone bomb threat. As part of his plea, Phearse admitted that on April 30, 2013, he willfully obstructed members of Congregation Beth Israel from enjoying the free exercise of their religious beliefs by threat of force with an explosive device. Phearse also admitted to using an instrument of interstate commerce to communicate a threat to kill and injure people and to destroy a building by means of an explosive device." - Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Texas.
Phearse was sentenced yesterday, by U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt. Phearse must pay $13,000 in restitution, serve 33 months in prison, and a further three years of supervised release following completion of his prison term.