Federal Jury Convicts Massachusetts Man Who Attempted Arson Attack at Jewish Retirement Home
A federal jury in Massachusetts has convicted a 37-year-old man in connection with the attempted firebombing of a Jewish retirement home one year ago.
The jury’s decision followed the week-long trial of defendant John Michael Rathbun. Rathbun’s indictment in June 2020 charged that he had tried and failed to ignite a partially-filled five-gallon fuel canister next to the driveway entrance to Ruth’s House, an assisted living facility in the town of East Longmeadow.
“The jury has spoken: Mr. Rathbun is guilty of lighting a firebomb right at the entrance to a Jewish assisted living facility — a cruel and senseless crime,” said Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell following the court announcement. “Thanks to the jury’s verdict and the good work of prosecutors and investigators, the man who targeted vulnerable members of our community will not be a threat to public safety anytime soon.”
Joseph R. Bonavolonta — Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Boston Division — stressed that the threat posed by Rathbun was “very real.”
“By trying to ignite a firebomb outside a Jewish assisted living facility, he put the lives of innocent people at risk,” Bonavolonta said in a statement.
Rathbun’s improvised explosive device consisted of a five-gallon Scepter fuel canister filled with gasoline and a Christian religious pamphlet as the wick. Forensic analysis identified Rathbun’s DNA on the canister and pamphlet.
Rathbun was convicted on one count of attempting to transport or receive explosive devices in interstate or foreign commerce with the intent of causing death and destruction of property, which carries a minimum prison sentence of five years.
US District Court Judge Mark G. Mastroianni has scheduled Rathbun’s sentencing for Nov. 12, 2021.