Wednesday, October 31, 2018

By Fred Shuster

 

LOS ANGELES—A South Los Angeles man was sentenced Monday to a year and a day behind bars for making online threats to kill law enforcement personnel and disrupt proceedings at the Inglewood courthouse.

John Patrice Hale, 43, must also pay $6,000 in restitution and serve three years of supervised release—to include 20 hours of community service per week—following his federal prison term.

U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer recommended that Hale undergo a mental health evaluation while in custody and ordered him to self-surrender on Nov. 26 to begin serving his sentence.

"If you make threats like this, our office will identify you, locate you and bring you to court," Assistant U.S. Attorney Reema El-Amamy told the court, adding that Hale's "troubling personal issues" do not excuse his conduct. "This was a very serious crime."

Hale, who used the online moniker "Frost K Blizzard," pleaded guilty in July to a federal count of making threats to injure in interstate commerce, which means that he used the internet in making the threats.

Arguing for a probationary sentence, defense attorney Deborah E. Gonzalez said her client is "not a hateful person who was intent on hurting anyone—he was a hurt person himself."

Hale made the online threats in May 2017, after a real estate broker began legal proceedings in the Inglewood Courthouse to evict him and others from a home in the area. He admitted the threats were an effort to disrupt those proceedings and to retaliate against the broker, as well as to disrupt his stepdaughter's job at a Los Angeles moving and storage company after the pair had an argument.

Prior to being sentenced, Hale apologized, telling the judge that he was "not in my right mind" when making the threats.

"I just panicked," he said. "It was foolish and very cowardly and I'm very sorry for it."

In the messages, Hale threatened to set off explosives planted in sheriff's vehicles at the courthouse. The threat prompted the evacuation of the courthouse, and both the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Arson and Explosives Unit and the Threat Interdiction Unit responded.

Two threats were made to the sheriff's department, through its Court Services Division website, on May 15, 2017, with the sender promising to "take out as many officers that pull out (of) your parking structure."

Two more threats made a day later warned of explosives planted under a patrol car at the Inglewood sheriff's station, saying the impact would be felt for "half city block." The threats again prompted a significant response by law enforcement and evacuation of the Inglewood courthouse.

In addition to those threats, Hale sent a threat to the moving company that employed his stepdaughter on May 23, 2017, that read: "All praises to Allah. Today, we will detonate an explosive at your La Brea and Arbor Vitae location if our needs aren't met by your company. ISIS."

Hale also admitted that, two days later, he submitted bogus information to the FBI's Tips and Public Leads web page, despite a warning that submitting a false tip could result in a fine and/or imprisonment.

Hale claimed on the site that he knew a man who "would supply ISIS with explosives even planting them for them" and who had received instructions from ISIS "to send Inglewood sheriff department bomb threats via email."

Although some of the threats invoked ISIS, there was no evidence linking Hale to international terrorism, prosecutors said.