Florida Man Admits Stalking Connecticut Victim, Planting Bottle Bombs Containing Hydrochloric Acid
Deirdre M, Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Patricia M. Ferrick, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced that FRANK MENDOZA, 53, formerly of Jacksonville, Florida, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny in Hartford to one count of interstate stalking.
“First, this defendant abused, threatened, and stalked his victim, a woman who had attempted to end her relationship with the defendant,” stated U.S. Attorney Daly. “The defendant then planted acid-filled bottle bombs in the victim’s car and came dangerously close to permanently disfiguring her. Under the federal Violence Against Women Act, the Department of Justice is empowered with tools to prosecute domestic violence and stalking crimes. We commend the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces in Connecticut and Florida and all of our partner investigative agencies who investigated this heinous crime in an effort to secure justice and provide safety for the victim.”
“Civilized societies must have zero tolerance for criminals like Mendoza who terrorize not only their victims but the communities in which they reside,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Ferrick. “The thorough multi-agency investigation into Mendoza’s crimes is indicative of exceptional cooperation among investigators focused on protecting the victim from future harm and seeing to it that justice prevails.”
According to court documents and statements made in court, Mendoza began a romantic relationship with a woman in Jacksonville, Florida, in 2008. Mendoza then became emotionally and psychologically abusive toward the victim. The victim also learned that Mendoza had a serious prior criminal history and claimed to be affiliated with a gang. She also observed Mendoza carrying a firearm. Mendoza’s abusive and threatening behavior caused the victim to attempt to end the relationship.
In approximately September 2010, as part of a ruse, the victim told Mendoza that she was moving to Rhode Island for a work-related training program. The victim instead moved to Stamford, Connecticut. In October 2010, Mendoza learned that the victim had moved to Connecticut and began to place numerous harassing and threatening phone calls to her, her friends, and her work colleagues.
In early November 2010, Mendoza traveled from Florida to Connecticut, visited the victim’s residence and place of work, and then returned to Florida. On December 8, 2010, Mendoza flew from Florida to New York City, rented a car, drove to the victim’s Connecticut residence, and placed two two-liter bottles in the victim’s car. The bottles contained hydrochloric acid and an aluminum foil wick.
At approximately 11:00 p.m. on December 8, 2010, the victim approached her car and observed that the car’s interior had been dampened by a liquid. She also observed a bottle on the driver’s side floor. When she picked the bottle up, it began to smoke and fizz. She then gently placed the bottle down and ran from the car. The bottle then exploded.
The investigation revealed that the first bottle had exploded before the victim had reached the car.
Mendoza has been detained since his arrest in Jacksonville on August 17, 2012.
The charge of interstate stalking carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000. If the binding plea agreement filed today is accepted by the court, Mendoza will be sentenced to at least 84 months of imprisonment.
Judge Chatigny scheduled sentencing for September 3, 2014.
This matter has been investigated by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces in New Haven and Jacksonville; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Connecticut State Police; the New Haven Police Department; the Stamford Police Department; the Stamford Bomb Squad; the Stamford Fire Department; and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Krishna Patel and Vanessa Richards.