Published Sept 10, 2013
By Kristin M. Kraemer, Tri-City Herald
The case against a Finley man accused of calling in multiple
bomb threats to Columbia Basin College to avoid taking a test will be
handled in federal court.
Steven Eugene Brown, 52, was indicted
Tuesday by a federal grand jury on one count of willfully making a
threat involving explosive materials.
He allegedly made the calls
July 18, which led school officials to shut down the Pasco and Richland
campuses for most of the day while authorities searched for explosive
devices. Nothing was found and the campuses reopened the following day.
was arrested July 24 after police said they tracked a cellphone used to
call in the threats. He was charged in Franklin County Superior Court
with threats to bomb or injure property.
Deputy Prosecutor Brian
Hultgrenn told a judge Tuesday that Brown's case is moving to U.S.
District Court. The indictment shows that Hultgrenn -- who in February
was sworn in as a special assistant U.S. attorney -- will help prosecute
the federal case.
He's expected to file documents Wednesday dismissing the Franklin County charge.
court records don't give a first-appearance date for Brown in the new
case. The felony charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in
federal prison, with three years of supervised release.
Brown has a
lengthy criminal history dating to at least 1989, including convictions
for drugs, a domestic violence assault, driving under the influence,
disorderly conduct and attempted theft, prosecutors said at an earlier
Superior Court hearing.
He previously told a judge, in an attempt
to lower his bail, that he has a wife and six children -- three still at
home -- and will lose his disability payments if he's stuck behind
According to Pasco police and court documents, a CBC
employee took a call at 11:23 a.m. from a "middle-aged" man who said,
"This is a bomb threat. Bomb is going to go off in the H Building and
one other place."
The staff member called campus security, who then called police.
11:45 a.m., an employee at Townsquare Media in Pasco got a call from a
blocked telephone. Townsquare Media operates several local radio
The male caller told that employee, "There are two bombs
located at CBC," documents said. "The first bomb is located in the H
Building (and) the second bomb you will find after the first bomb is
detonated. The first bomb is scheduled to detonate at 1 p.m."
Townsquare Media also called police, who evacuated both of CBC's campuses.
break in the investigation reportedly came when police tracked down the
phone number of a call that came into CBC around the time the threat
was made to the college. Cellphone company records showed the same
number was used to call in the threat to the media company, but the
person first pressed "*67" so the number would be blocked.
talked to a woman who received a call from that number four minutes
before the first threat, and she said her daughter is friends with
Brown's granddaughter and she'd called to ask if she could spend the
night, court documents said. The granddaughter lives with Brown, who was
the only adult male present when the girl called her mom, documents
Investigators went to Brown's house and were told he was at CBC taking a placement test. He was not a CBC student at the time.
sister said Brown is on disability and the test was part of the process
for him "to go back to school to regain employment," court documents
CBC officials told police that Brown was scheduled to take
the test in the H Building at 1 p.m. the same day the threats were
called in. He'd been scheduled to take the test multiple times before
and didn't show up, documents said.
The phone used to make the
threat calls was registered to a "Jhon [sic] Smith." The only other
information associated with the account was the last four digits, 5400,
of a credit card number.
During a search of Brown's home,
detectives allegedly found a phone with the same serial number and
receipts for purchases made with a credit card ending in 5400.
has been held in Franklin County jail on $150,000 bail for the bomb
case, in addition to $50,000 for a Benton County warrant. He will be
transferred into federal custody.
Published with permission of the Tri-City Herald. Additional news stories can be accessed online at the Tri-City Herald.
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