A man was sentenced to five years in prison and three years of supervised release for placing a lit firebomb outside a Jewish nursing home in Longmeadow, Mass., and for lying to the FBI about where he was on the day of the bombing attempt.

A U.S. District Court in Springfield also ordered John Rathbun, 37, of East Longmeadow to not enter the complex of the Jewish Geriatric Services Lifecare, Inc., for any reason, the Department of Justice announced on Tuesday.

“Mr. Rathbun’s hate-filled and ruthless actions put the entire Longmeadow community at risk,” said U.S. attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “[This] sentence sends a powerful message that hate and bigotry have no place in Massachusetts. Everyone deserves to live free of fear and authentically and fully as themselves.”

On April 2, 2020, Rathbun assembled, placed and lit a homemade firebomb at the entrance of the Jewish-sponsored assisted-living facility. The bomb was a five-gallon canister of gasoline with a wick made of pages from a Christian pamphlet. Rathbun’s DNA was found on the canister and pamphlet.

No one was injured in the incident.

Days later, Rathbun falsely told an FBI agent that he was at home on the day of the bombing attempt, was not familiar with the location of the senior care facility, and that he did not own or even see the fuel canister.

He was convicted by a federal jury in June 2021 of two charges related to the crime. He was also convicted in November 2020 by another federal jury for lying to the FBI.

“There is no way to undo the damage John Rathbun did to the elderly residents of this Jewish assisted living facility, and to the entire community, with his hateful, repulsive, and violent behavior. But today’s sentence does hold him accountable for placing a lit firebomb in their path and for lying to us about it,” said Joseph Bonavolonta, head of the FBI’s Boston office.


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