Threats caused evacuation at Harvard
and the controlled detonation of a hoax device
BOSTON – A Manchester, N.H., man pleaded guilty today in federal court in Boston for a series of extortionate bomb threats against Harvard University. The extortionate threats caused the evacuation of Harvard’s Science Center Plaza and surrounding academic buildings, and the controlled detonation of what was later determined to be a hoax device on April 13, 2023.
William A. Giordani, 55, pleaded guilty to one count of concealing a federal felony. U.S. District Court Judge Angel Kelley scheduled sentencing for April 25, 2024. Giordani was initially arrested and charged by criminal complaint in May 2023 and subsequently indicted by a federal grand jury in June 2023.
In the early afternoon of April 13, 2023, Giordani placed a large tool bag, which concealed a locked safe containing fireworks and electrical wires, in the center of Harvard’s Science Center Plaza, where students and others had gathered. Shortly thereafter, a caller, using a voice changing app to conceal his identity, called the Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) and said that he had placed three bombs on the Harvard campus. The caller demanded an unspecified amount in Bitcoin to prevent the remote detonation of the bombs. In several ensuing calls, the caller told HUPD that he was serious about his demands and that they could find the first bomb in the Science Center Plaza.
HUPD discovered the device planted by Giordani, next to a bench in the center of Science Center Plaza and issued an emergency evacuation order of the area and nearby buildings. A responding bomb squad from the Cambridge Police Department assessed and disabled the device. No additional devices were found on campus that day.
A subsequent investigation revealed that Giordani had been recruited to join the extortion scheme via a craigslist.org advertisement. Once Giordani knew he had been recruited to assist in an extortionate bomb scheme, he had an obligation under federal law to report that scheme to law enforcement authorities. Instead, he deleted incriminating text messages, told his girlfriend not to speak to anyone about it and went on the run from police.
The charge of concealing a felony provides for a sentence of up to three years in prison and one year of supervised release. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.
Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy; Jodi Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Boston Division; Harvard University Police Chief Victor Clay; and Cambridge Police Commissioner Christine Elow made the announcement. Assistance was provided by the Nashua (N.H.) Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney John T. McNeil of the National Security Unit is prosecuting the case.