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The man accused of planting a fake bomb on Harvard’s campus as an accomplice in an effort to secure a “large” amount of Bitcoin from the University, according to a criminal complaint, was released on an unsecured bond with conditions at a hearing Friday.
William A. Giordani was arrested on Tuesday and charged with aiding and abetting interstate conspiracy and making extortionate threats following a joint investigation by the Harvard University Police Department, the Cambridge Police Department, and the FBI.
Authorities allege Giordani placed a tool bag containing a metal safe, wires, and fireworks on a bench in Harvard’s Science Center Plaza as part of a fake bomb threat that led to the plaza’s evacuation on April 13.
According to the Boston Globe, prosecutors indicated at Giordani’s hearing Friday that they believe he did not act alone in the incident, with Assistant U.S. Attorney John T. McNeil noting during the hearing that “the dust hasn’t settled” on whether Giordani was manipulated or acted as the scheme’s “mastermind.”
A criminal complaint alleges that Giordani told police that he had been directed to place the bag in Science Center Plaza through an April 11 Craigslist advertisement by someone under the name “Nguyen Mihn” who claimed to be the Vietnamese parent of a Harvard student, according to the filing.
Giordani told authorities that he traveled to Worcester, Massachusetts, to receive payment from the man, but the man refused to meet with Giordani and admitted he was not Asian and did not have children as the ad claimed, according to the complaint. Giordani also said the man was “spouting off” racist and antisemitic comments during the call, according to the filing.
After being temporarily appointed at a Tuesday hearing, Federal Public Defender Jane Peachy was named Giordani’s attorney Friday. Peachy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Giordani’s sentencing bond condition requires him to enter a substance abuse treatment program and avoid Harvard’s campus, according to the Globe.
Peachy told the Globe that Giordani is committed to getting “clean and sober,” and it appears “he was duped” by the Craigslist ad.
Authorities have not arrested any other suspects in the case.
According to court records, on April 13, HUPD received a series of calls from a “computer-generated male voice” demanding a “large” Bitcoin transaction as payment. The caller claimed to have planted three bombs on Harvard’s campus and said that they would detonate in 100 minutes if demands were not met.
The filing also indicates that the caller eventually revealed the Science Center Plaza as the location of one of the bombs, leading HUPD to locate the bag and evacuate the area. Eventually, CPD’s Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit completed a “controlled destruction using a robotic device.”
Giordani is due back in court for a preliminary hearing on May 22.
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