TRENTON, N.J. – A former resident of Monmouth County was indicted Thursday on charges that he made threatening telephone and email communications to elected state officials, judges, law enforcement officers, and attorneys, and phoned in false bomb threats to local and state government offices, a police department, two law firms and a commercial establishment, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today.
Official say Mr. Eric G. Hafner, 28, formerly of Monmouth County, New Jersey, was charged by indictment with nine counts of making threating communications in interstate or foreign commerce with intent to extort, each punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison, and a maximum fine of $250,000.
Officials say he was also charged with 18 counts of making threatening communications in interstate or foreign commerce, each punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison, and a maximum fine of $250,000.
Hafner was also charged with six counts of conveying false information concerning the use of an explosive device, each punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison, and a maximum fine of $250,000.
“As charged in the Indictment, the defendant embarked on a campaign of terror directed at judges, elected officials, and members of law enforcement in Monmouth County and elsewhere,” U.S. Attorney Carpenito said.
“He threatened to detonate bombs and kill and otherwise harm his victims, all in an effort to cause psychological harm to and extort hundreds of thousands of dollars from them. As a result of this federal prosecution, his serious crimes now face serious consequences.”
“Hafner’s actions were intended to – and in fact did – create fear to numerous citizens in the Monmouth County community,” Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said.
“In addition, significant law enforcement resources were wasted in responding to these false bomb threats. Even though these threats were false, the fear and psychological trauma felt by the victims during these incidents were very real.”
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Between July 2016 and May 2018, while residing outside the United States, Hafner allegedly communicated threats to numerous individuals located in and around Monmouth County and elsewhere.
The threatening communications targeted elected officials, judges, police officers, attorneys, and their families, and included threats to injure and kill the victims. The defendant sought to extort $350,000 from some of his victims. Hafner also made false bomb threats to an elected official’s office, a county courthouse, a police department, two law firms, and a commercial establishment.
Hafner was originally charged with transmission of threatening communications in a one-count criminal complaint on Oct. 6, 2016, which remained under seal until his arrest in the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. Territory, on Sept. 27, 2019, where he had an initial appearance before Chief U.S. District Judge Ramona V. Manglona.
Hafner had his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Tonianne J. Bongiovanni in Trenton federal court upon his arrival in the District of New Jersey on Oct. 23, 2019. At that time, Hafner was ordered detained without bail.