A Massachusetts man was convicted by a federal jury last week for placing a lit firebomb at the entrance of a Jewish nursing home for senior citizens in April 2020, announced the U.S. Department of Justice.

John Rathbun, 37, of East Longmeadow, Mass., was convicted of one count of attempting to transport or receive explosive devices with the knowledge or intent to kill, injure or intimidate any individual, or unlawfully damage or destroy any property.

U.S. District Court Judge Mark G. Mastroianni scheduled sentencing for Nov. 12.

“The danger posed by John Rathbun was very real. By trying to ignite a firebomb outside a Jewish assisted-living facility, he put the lives of innocent people at risk,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, the special agent in charge of the Boston FBI field office. “Through the diligent efforts of our Western Massachusetts Joint Terrorism Task Force and the jury’s hard work, the community is much safer now.”

On the morning of April 2, 2020, Rathbun assembled, placed and lit a homemade firebomb outside the entrance of Jewish Geriatric Services Lifecare, Inc., known as Ruth’s House, an assisted-living facility in Longmeadow. The explosive device was a five-gallon fuel canister that was filled with gasoline and had a Christian religious pamphlet as its wick. Rathbun’s DNA was found on the canister and pamphlet.

A few days later, on April 15, Rathbun lied to a federal agent about his involvement in the crime. The false statement charge provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.


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