Former Northeastern University lab manager convicted of staging hoax explosion at Boston campus | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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Former Northeastern University lab manager convicted of staging hoax explosion at Boston campus

FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2019 file photo, pedestrians walk near a Northeastern University sign on the school's campus in Boston. A former lab manager at Northeastern University has been convicted, Friday, June 28, 2024, of staging a hoax explosion at the Boston campus and then lying about what happened to a federal agent. (AP Photo/Rodrique Ngowi, File)
Original Publication Date June 29, 2024 - 7:31 AM

A former lab manager at Northeastern University has been convicted of staging a hoax explosion at the Boston campus and then lying about what happened to a federal agent.

Jason Duhaime, 46, from San Antonio, Texas, was convicted on three counts Friday by a federal jury. He faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for each offense.

Two attorneys representing Duhaime withdrew from the case in January, court documents show. A public defender who replaced them could not immediately be reached for comment Saturday.

Duhaime worked as the university's new technology manager and director of the Immersive Media Lab. In September 2022, he called the university police to say he'd collected several packages from a mail area, including two Pelican hard plastic cases, and that when he opened one of the cases, it exploded and sharp objects flew out and injured his arms.

Duhaime's 911 call sparked a major response from law enforcement, who evacuated the area and called in the bomb squad.

He showed police a letter he told them he'd found inside the case, which claimed the lab was trying to get people to live inside a virtual reality world and was secretly working with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and the U.S. government.

“In the case you got today we could have planted explosives but not this time!!!” the note read, court documents show. “Take notice!!! You have 2 months to take operations down or else!!!!!”

But Duhaime's story quickly unraveled, according to the FBI. They didn't find anything in the cases and noted the letter appeared to be in pristine condition. The FBI said Duhaime had superficial injuries to his arms, but no damage to his shirt sleeves. And when agents searched Duhaime's computer, they found a copy of the letter in a backup folder that he'd written a few hours before calling 911.

“Bomb hoaxes like the one the defendant fabricated here have real life consequences. Communities are put in fear, law enforcement personnel are diverted from other important duties and there are significant financial repercussions,” Acting U.S. Attorney Joshua Levy said in a statement. “As we experience a wave of bomb hoaxes in schools, houses of worship and other gathering places, we will work closely with our local, state and federal partners to hold accountable anyone who tries to inject fear and distress into our community.”

Northeastern, a private university, has more than 18,000 undergraduate students and 22,000 graduate students.

Duhaime is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 2.

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Perry reported from Meredith, New Hampshire.

News from © The Associated Press, 2024
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