District Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Charge for Series of Threats Against Metro Transit System
WASHINGTON—Jerez Nehemiah Coleman, 20, of Washington, D.C., pled guilty today to a federal charge stemming from an investigation into a series of calls he made falsely warning of various threats to the Metro transit system, announced U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips and Ron Pavlik, Chief of the Metro Transit Police.
Coleman, also known as Kidd Cole and Jerez Nehemiah Stone-Coleman, was arrested on May 27, 2015 and has been in custody ever since. He pled guilty this afternoon in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to a charge of making threats involving explosive materials. The Honorable Amit P. Mehta scheduled sentencing for Feb. 26, 2016. The charge carries a statutory maximum of 10 years in prison and potential financial penalties. The plea, which is subject to the Court’s approval, calls for a sentence of up to 27 months in prison, to be followed by two years of supervised release.
According to a statement of offense, signed by the defendant as well as the government, Coleman placed over 300 calls to 911 from December 2014 to May 2015. Multiple law enforcement agencies—including the Metro Transit Police, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, the U.S. Capitol Police, and the U.S. Secret Service—responded to these calls and provided security at the various scenes. These threat and/or hoax calls caused law enforcement to spend hundreds of hours ensuring the public was safe.
In one such call, for example, made on Dec. 12, 2014, Coleman called 911 to report that he and his friends had bombs and were on a Metrobus at the Potomac Avenue Metro station in Southeast Washington. During the call, Coleman stated, “We are going to blow the entire whole bus…everybody is going to die in ten minutes…” This call prompted an immediate emergency response. MPD and Metro Transit Police were diverted from other duties and dispatched, emergency lights on and sirens blaring, to the scene. MPD arrived first and established a perimeter around the bus. There were about 20 passengers on board. When Metro Transit Police officers arrived, they evacuated the passengers. They searched each seat of the bus, the wheel wells, the undercarriage, and the exhaust pipes. Throughout this search, the bus was out of service. After the thorough investigation, police determined that the 911 call was a hoax.
“Jerez Nehemiah Coleman repeatedly disrupted our transit system and put people on edge by calling 911 with false threats of imminent attacks,” said U.S. Attorney Phillips. “Federal and local law enforcement immediately responded to these calls, putting aside other important responsibilities to investigate what turned out to be a hoax. Ultimately, the investigation led to this defendant, and now he is being held accountable for this series of senseless acts.”
“In today’s world, we must take every threat seriously,” said Metro Transit Police Chief Pavlik. “Over a period of several months, the defendant’s actions had the effect of putting at risk many Metro riders and responding police officers. I want to express my sincere gratitude for the efforts of our law enforcement partners on the Joint Terrorism Task Force, as well as the prosecutors who successfully handled this case.”
Coleman earlier was indicted by a federal grand jury on a total of 13 felony counts. In return for his guilty plea, the other charges will be dismissed at sentencing. In his plea today, he admitted to all of the conduct as alleged in the 13 charges.
In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Phillips and Metro Transit Police Chief Pavlik commended the work of those who investigated the case for the Metro Transit Police. They also expressed appreciation for the assistance provided by the Metropolitan Police Department, the 911 Office of Unified Communications, the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and other law enforcement agencies. They acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialists Jorge Casillas, Jessica Moffatt, and Todd McClelland and Criminal Investigator John Marsh. Finally, they commended Assistant U.S. Attorneys Deborah A. Curtis, John L. Hill and John Marston, who investigated and prosecuted the case.