Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director‑in‑Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and Dermot Shea, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced that GERARDO MANUEL CHECO NUNEZ has been charged with making a hoax bomb threat yesterday, November 17, 2021, to FBI personnel at the Jacob K. Javits Federal Office Building (the “Javits Building”), located at 26 Federal Plaza in Manhattan, which houses the headquarters of the New York Field Office of the FBI and other federal agencies. CHECO NUNEZ was arrested yesterday after making the alleged bomb threat and was presented before United States Magistrate Judge Ona T. Wang in Manhattan federal court this afternoon.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “As alleged, the defendant’s bomb threat caused an immediate mobilization by the FBI and the NYPD appropriate for a real explosive device. Hoax or not, a bomb threat requires the diversion of valuable law enforcement and public safety resources, and causes genuine fear in the public. The defendant now faces a serious federal charge for his alleged conduct.”
FBI Assistant Director‑in‑Charge Michael J. Driscoll said: “While Nunez’s alleged threat to our federal building was deemed a hoax, his actions called for the resources of law enforcement, which were expended in response to one man’s personal gripe. Aside from the fact that these types of hoax threats divert resources and cost taxpayer dollars, they put law enforcement in harm’s way regardless of their intended purpose. Make no mistake about it, this case will be taken as seriously as any other.”
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said: “In a city that has experienced more than 50 terrorist plots and four attacks, making a claim that you have a bomb at a government building is no joke. Mr. Checo Nunez faces serious charges which should serve as an example to others who believe making threats is an effective way to get attention.”
As alleged in the Complaint filed in Manhattan federal court:
On November 17, 2021, CHECO NUNEZ entered the Javits Building and approached a security booth staffed by members of the uniformed security police of the FBI (the “FBI Police”). The security booth is protected by a transparent security screen. CHECO NUNEZ slammed against the security screen a copy of a written complaint he had previously filed through the FBI’s website alleging that a foreign government had hacked his accounts and was trying to extort him. CHECO NUNEZ then stated to the FBI Police that he had an improvised explosive device (“IED”) in his vehicle (“Vehicle‑1”), and that he wanted to turn himself in. The FBI Police asked CHECO NUNEZ to confirm that there was an IED in Vehicle‑1, and CHECO NUNEZ responded affirmatively. FBI Police took CHECO NUNEZ into custody, and alerted members of the FBI’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force (the “JTTF”).
Members of the JTTF asked CHECO NUNEZ if there was an IED in Vehicle‑1. CHECO NUNEZ responded that there was not an IED in Vehicle‑1, and that he had told the FBI Police that there was an IED in Vehicle‑1 because the FBI had ignored his hacking complaints, and he wanted the FBI to pay attention to those complaints. CHECO NUNEZ provided a description of Vehicle‑1 and its approximate location outside the Javits Building.
Members of the JTTF located Vehicle‑1, which is a full‑size cargo van. Vehicle‑1 was parked on Worth Street near the intersection of Worth Street and Lafayette Street, which is approximately across the street from the Javits Building. Vehicle‑1 was parked in the immediate vicinity of a closed coffee shop and an apartment building in which numerous individuals reside. Law enforcement evacuated the area around Vehicle‑1, including the apartment building, and closed the area to pedestrian and vehicle traffic. At least one law enforcement helicopter began surveilling the scene.
FBI bomb technicians searched Vehicle‑1 and determined that it did not contain an IED or any other type of explosive device or materials. During subsequent searches of Vehicle‑1, members of the JTTF found at least approximately several rounds of .223 caliber ammunition, as well as written materials regarding weapons of mass destruction and the detection of IEDs. From approximately 2006 to 2013, CHECO NUNEZ was enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, including as an Engineer Equipment Operator.
CHECO NUNEZ, 33, of Queens, New York, is charged with one count of conveying false information and hoaxes in connection with the alleged bomb threat, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1038, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.