Man charged with threatening courthouses here and across country

CLEVELAND — An Ohio man charged in the investigation into dozens of bomb threats made to courthouses and other public buildings in five states late last year waived a bond hearing today and was ordered locked up.

Jackson County's courthouse one of 28 public buildings threatened in Oregon on Nov. 19.

A man called Jackson County's elections office that afternoon and said a bomb would explode in the courthouse in 25 minutes. The old county courthouse at 10 S. Oakdale Ave. and the Justice Center across the street were evacuated and searched, but nothing was found.

The FBI arrested 39-year-old Lonny Bristow of Mansfield on Wednesday in the Mansfield area.

Federal authorities said Bristow was arrested in the investigation of bomb threats made in November and December to courthouses and public buildings in Nebraska, Washington, Oregon, Tennessee and Mississippi.

He had an initial court appearance Thursday in U.S. District Court in Cleveland and waived a bond hearing. Bristow agreed to be held without bond while his case is pending, his public defender, Carolyn Kucharski, said in an email.

Bristow was initially charged with a single count of making a bomb threat by phone.

There was no immediate indication of a possible motive.

An FBI agent's affidavit filed with the court said investigators traced numerous bomb threats to prepaid phone cards purchased at a Wal-Mart in Upper Sandusky, located about 40 miles west of Mansfield.

Agents searched Bristow's residence and seized computers, bank cards, weapons and ammunition, the FBI said.

The Mansfield News Journal reported that in 1997 Bristow was labeled a "vexatious litigator." Since 1993, Bristow filed at least 137 lawsuits, targeting law enforcement personnel, judges, media outlets and others.

Although the lawsuits were usually tossed out of court, they added up to thousands of dollars in attorney fees, the newspaper reported.

The paper also reported that Bristow also was the first inmate in Ohio to have his mail privileges revoked. He received a 13-year prison sentence for theft, retaliation, aiding an escape, harassment by an inmate and telephone harassment.

Stephen Anthony, head of the FBI in northern Ohio, said the bomb threats had induced panic for hundreds of people. He called the threats "reckless and malicious."

— Associated Press

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