Postal inspectors arrested a man from Dubuque, Iowa whom Wednesday they accuse of sending pipe bombs and threatening letters to unidentified employees at Janus Capital
and American Century Investments
. The man allegedly wanted the fund firms to increase the price of 3Com and Navarre common stock.
John P. Tomkins
| John P. Tomkins |
Accused Fund Firm Bomber
, a machinist at a Dubuque manufacturing company, mailed two malfunctioning pipe bombs to the fund firms in January, charged
Department of Justice officials.
One bomb was received by employees of Janus in Denver who forwarded it unopened to its sub-adviser, Perkins, Wolf, McDonnell and Co. in Chicago. That letter was addressed to Janus Small Cap.
The second bomb was sent to an American Century executive in Kansas City. Authorities did not identify that executive.
Both parcels contained pipe bombs. While the devices were functional, each had an unconnected firing circuit. In each case, had a wire been connected to the device's battery, it would have exploded instantly, said authorities.
The parcels also contained a note stating, "BANG!! YOU'RE DEAD" and a message that a stock rally would raise the price of Navarre Corporation (ticker: NAVR) in January.
All together, Tomkins had sent more than a dozen threatening letters to executives at financial services companies, said authorities. He started sending the letters in May 2005 and signed the letters as "The Bishop".
In the initial letters, he demanded that the price of shares in 3Com Corporation (COMS) be raised to $6.66 by October 31, 2005.
In a later letter received by a senior officer at Navarre in March 2006, Tomkins wrote that "within the next 60 days you are going to find a way to reverse the downward spiral of the stock price or the devil will be paying you a visit." It concluded with the words "TicToc" and was signed "The BISHOP".
He also wrote at least three other threatening letters and mailed them to executives at financial services in 2005, said authorities.
Authorities said that a letter written in May 2005 referred to how easy it is to kill someone and cited "The Unibomber" (sic) and "Salvo", a reference to Washington sniper Lee Malvo.
Each of those letters mailed in the fall of 2005 also demanded that the price of 3Com shares be raised to $6.66 by October 31, 2005.
Tomkins wrote four letters postmarked on June 9, 2006 that were mailed from Palatine, Illinois and addressed to executives at financial services firms. The letters read:
"TIMES UP ... IT IS BETTER TO REIGN IN HELL, THAN TO SERVE IN HEAVEN ... THE BISHOP," the letters read.
SEC officials said that records show Tomkins owned at least 200 options in 3Com and Navarre stock during the period when he allegedly mailed the letters.
Postal police arrested Tomkins while he drove to work from a Chicago suburb. They charged him with two counts of criminal conduct, including one count of mailing a threatening communication with the intent to extort and one count of possession of an unregistered destructive device. He was arraigned in U.S. District Court in Chicago.
, director of the SEC's Enforcement Division, led SEC investigators who were part of a task force that included the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives and more than 100 postal inspectors.
Tomkins had worked weekends as a substitute rural letter carrier but was no longer employed at the time he mailed letters.
His motive was apparently to profit from a rise in the price of 3Com shares through his options holdings.
Authorities said that evidence collected against Tomkins included handwriting samples from a bank signature card, mortgage documents and employment documents that they say matched writing on the envelopes mailed to the executives.
They also used photos taken of one the letter recipient's homes by the mailer to tie Tomkins to the case. The photos were taken from a car window and include identifying features of the car. Authorities said the car was a four-door Chevrolet Lumina. Tomkins allegedly drives a 1993 red Lumina.
Authorities said that photos taken from Tomkins' car match the earlier photos, including the fabric of the inside of the door.
His credit card records also show purchase made in locations near where the letters were mailed as well as purchases of PVC caps and PVC pipe consistent with the pipe bomb materials.
Stay ahead of the news ... Sign up for our email alerts now