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Dupe in Harvard bomb hoax sentenced to three years probation

A federal judge yesterday sentenced William Giordani of Manchester, NH to three years of probation for the way he showed up at the Harvard Science Center with a bag full of Roman candles, bottle rockets and wires in it at the bidding of somebody who hired him through Craigslist - who then called police at Harvard seven times to warn them that bombs had been planted around the campus and to demand a large Bitcoin payment to keep them from going off.

Giordani pleaded guilty in January. Whoever hired him - and spoke to him on the phone - remains at large. No actual bombs were found on the campus.

In their sentencing memorandum, prosecutors said that while Giordani may have been a patsy at first, he quickly turned into a criminal after he realized law enforcement was after him:

At the time the defendant placed the hoax bomb device in the Harvard Science Center Plaza, it is reasonable to conclude that he did not know the entire scope of the extortion plot. The individuals primarily responsible for the plot successfully duped the defendant into placing the device in the plaza through the use of a ruse: they hired the defendant to deliver specified items to a Harvard student and then directed the defendant to leave the device in the plaza for the student to retrieve. ... While this ruse was used to draw the defendant into the plot, the defendant's involvement was not entirely unwitting. Among other things, two days before he planted the device, the defendant shared with his associates that he thought what he was delivering "sounds possibly like a bomb." ... [T]he defendant set aside his concern that the package might be a bomb, and any concomitant risk to those in the Harvard Science Center Plaza that day, because he was desperate to make a few hundred dollars. Nonetheless, within an hour or two of planting the device, he knew that he had played a central role in an extortionate bomb plot. At that point, instead of alerting authorities, he continued to press for payment from the perpetrators, including trying to extort them. The defendant's concern was not for the safety and wellbeing of those he had helped victimize. Instead, he remained focused on getting paid for his effort, and not getting caught by law enforcement.

According to the FBI, Giordani, acting on instruction from the mystery person, went out and bought the fireworks, then traveled to the South Bay Home Depot the morning of April 13, 2023 to buy 250 feet of galvanized wire, a safebox with a digital lock and a specific 16-pocket tool bag, only the store didn't have the tool bag in stock, so Giordani used $10 in cash and a former housemate's debit card to buy a more expensive bag. He was spotted on a Harvard Science Center Plaza livecam leaving the package on a bench near a couple of food trucks.

Giordani was arrested May 2.

In her sentencing memorandum, Giordani's lawyer also asked for just probation - but for only one year.

In the twelve months since Mr. Giordani's arrest in this case, he has worked to change the way he lives. That has not been an easy task. At 55 years old, he had essentially known only one way of life. Every day is a struggle to stay on the right path. Not surprisingly, he has stumbled a few times in the past year. Nonetheless, his progress is truly monumental. He has accepted responsibility for his poor judgment in delivering materials used in a bomb hoax to the Harvard campus, and for his poor judgment in how he responded after he was made aware of what he had been duped into. But his acceptance of responsibility goes beyond pleading guilty to a federal criminal offense; he has strived to change the things in his life that caused him to get involved in the offense in the first place: drug use, instability in employment, and homelessness. Given the nature of Mr. Giordani's involvement in this offense, the mitigating factors that contributed to his involvement in the offense, and the strides he has made while on pretrial release, he asks this Court to impose a sentence of one year probation.

She continued that Giordani has had a rough life: A childhood so bad he was eventually diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, drug and alcohol abuse, and, in 2007, while working as a roofer, a 20-foot fall that sent him to Mass. General with a collapsed lung, broken ribs, and a broken wrist, which led to chronic back pain and contributed to his ongoing drug habit.

At the time of the offense before the Court about one year ago, Mr. Giordani was living in his girlfriend's sister's apartment in Nashua. He was using cocaine daily and owed money to his drug dealer. He was collecting disability benefits and picking up odd jobs off Craig's List. He had cut ties with almost all of his family members. He was living a life on the margins.

The person who posted the Craig's List ad Mr. Giordani responded to was deliberately looking for someone they could trick into assisting with their sinister plot. Mr. Giordani fit the bill. He agreed to purchase fireworks, pick up other items at a Home Depot, and deliver the items to the Harvard campus. He ignored one of his friends who said the job sounded like a bomb, and instead found another friend to take him to Cambridge. He was promised money for the job – which he desperately needed - and was assured that the materials were for a science project for the poster's son, a Harvard student. After reluctantly leaving the bag containing the materials he gathered at the poster's direction near a bench at the Harvard science center plaza, Mr. Giordani drove to Worcester to collect his payment for the job. There is absolutely no evidence that he knew these materials would be used in a bomb threat to Harvard University and cause the panic and fear that the poster created. When Mr. Giordani arrived in Worcester to collect payment, he received the following messages from the poster:

I would pay you but im out of state and everything I said was a lie I am not Vietnamese and I do not have a son.


get trolled

Even though the bomb threat didn't work out fucking with you and the police was the most fund I've had in a long time

When Mr. Giordani said he was going to report the poster to the police, the poster warned Mr. Giordani that Mr. Giordani would also get himself in trouble. Thereafter, Mr. Giordani did not go to the police and instead hid from them. He told his girlfriend not to say anything to anyone and deleted text messages with other people with whom he had discussed the delivery job. When Mr. Giordani was arrested, he admitted having stayed awake for several days straight in an effort to hide from the police.

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I guess the rest of the drugs must have been prescription pain killers. Cocaine isn't usually used for its pain relieving properties.

Voting closed 24

When Mr. Giordani was arrested, he admitted having stayed awake for several days straight in an effort to hide from the police.

That's what the coke is used for.

Voting closed 17

Cocaine can be used as a local anesthetic. (Which is why the more respectable anesthetics often have similar names.) They probably weren't introduced to the drug in a medical setting, though.

Voting closed 13

We need to build a wall at the NH border

Voting closed 9