A federal grand jury on Thursday indicted a former Northeastern University employee on three counts for allegedly staging a hoax explosion at the facility that drew a massive police response and scared community members.
Jason Duhaime, 45, of San Antonio, Texas, was arrested earlier this month in Texas, where he first faced Judge Henry Bemporad after US Attorney Rachaell Rollins’ office called him in connection with an incident prosecutors described as “troubling.” had accused.
Duhaime was charged on one count for willfully providing false and misleading information related to an explosive device and on two counts for making materially false statements to a federal law enforcement officer. Each charge carries up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and fines of up to $250,000.
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Authorities said Duhaime lied about a package that exploded in a northeastern building, feigned injuries and penned a “rambling” note targeting the use of virtual reality and Mark Zuckerberg, who was found among the packages.
The indictment states that Duhaime told police around 7pm on September 13 that “stuff had flown out” of a package he had opened in a cupboard and that he had injured his hand. The items, Duhaime said, were “very sharp, according to the indictment.
As law enforcement responded to the incident, several buildings in the Northeast were evacuated and a campus-wide alert was issued, including one that described an “explosion” at Holmes Halls.
“All that energy and those things are flying out. And I had a long sleeve shirt and they basically flew up underneath and hit my arm. The case went up and then down,” Duhaime told law enforcement, according to the indictment.
- Continue reading: Letter found on employee’s computer in ‘hoax’ blast at Northeastern, officials say
However, prosecutors allege Duhaime was not telling the truth as the Pelican-style packaging “had no obvious marks, dents, tears, holes or any other indication of having been subjected to a violent or explosive discharge of any type or magnitude.” charge says.
“As Duhaime was well aware, his statements to the JTTF agent on September 13, 2022 regarding the case in question, the threatening letter and the markings on his forearms were false and misleading because, among other things, the case in question did not contain any small or sharp objects, no objects were thrown from the case in question when Duhaime opened it, Duhaime suffered no injuries from opening the case in question, and Duhaime himself wrote the threatening letter before calling the police,” read the grand jury indictment.
In indicting documents from earlier this month, investigators said investigators found a “word-for-word” copy of the letter stored in a backup folder on a computer in Duhaime’s northeast office.
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“The metadata associated with this file reflects a ‘Create Date/Time’ of September 13, 2022 at 2:57 PM EST and a ‘Last Printed Date/Time’ of September 13, 2022 at 4:02 PM EST,” it says it in court records. “Although the coroner’s review is ongoing, none of the other computers found in Duhaime’s office appear to contain the letter.”
Judge Bemporad barred Duhaime from contacting university officials and ordered him to pay $10,000 if he failed to appear in court under release terms approved by the Texas judge last week.
Duhaime is expected to appear in federal court in Boston at a later date, prosecutors said.