Kansas City Man Sentenced for Phone Call Hoax with False Threat to Contaminate Water Supply
KANSAS CITY, MO—Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Kansas City, Mo., man was sentenced in federal court today for making a hoax telephone call with a false threat to contaminate the public water supplies of Kansas City, Mo., St. Louis, Mo., Wichita, Kan., and Topeka, Kan.
Manuel Garcia, 70, of Kansas City, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple to two years in federal prison without parole. Garcia’s sentenced was enhanced by the court because the offense resulted in a substantial disruption of government functions and a substantial expenditure of funds from local police departments and water districts in response.
Garcia, who pleaded guilty on June 2, 2014, admitted that he made three threatening telephone calls in October 2013 in which he claimed there was a threat to contaminate the public water supply of Kansas City, St. Louis, Wichita and Topeka. Garcia admitted that he knew the threats were false when he made the calls, and that the threats were conveyed in a way that it was reasonable to believe the information.
Garcia called the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department 9-1-1 Emergency Tips Hotline on Oct. 15, 2013. Garcia claimed that the water supplies of Kansas City, St. Louis, Wichita and Topeka would be contaminated in the next 10-15 days with an unknown substance contained in four 55-gallon tanks. The 9-1-1 operator asked Garcia to identify himself and Garcia hung up. On the same day, Garcia called the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Joint Support Operations Center in Washington, D.C., with the same threat. Garcia called the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department 9-1-1 Emergency Tips Hotline again on Oct. 22, 2013.
An FBI agent recognized Garcia’s voice from a previous case in which Garcia pleaded guilty to making threats by telephone and placing a hoax explosive device outside the Charles Evans Whittaker United States Courthouse. The package was left with a note making references to explosives and Garcia placed a call to the courthouse stating there were additional explosives inside. This package and the call were determined to be hoaxes. Garcia was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison in that prior case.
In response to Garcia’s hoax threat calls, the Kansas City Police Department increased helicopter surveillance around the water treatment plants in the metropolitan area for a two-week period, set up department snipers in observation posts around the city’s water intake and posted two-person patrol teams 24-hours a day around the city’s water treatment plants. In addition, measures were taken by 10 different water supplies in the Kansas City, St. Louis, Wichita and Topeka metropolitan areas that were potentially targets of the hoax. These efforts included increased security measures at the plants as well as notifying and coordinating with at least 12 different police departments and agencies to increase surveillance and patrols. The law enforcement response to these hoaxes was spread across four different metropolitan areas and included a large number of water treatment facilities for a two-week period.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Casey. It was investigated by the FBI.