Two Navy contractors were charged Wednesday for reporting bomb scares they apparently knew were false.
The two contractors, in separate incidences, allegedly reported hoax bomb threats that resulted in major evacuations of nearby ships at Naval Base San Diego, The San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Bomb hoaxes are depressingly common. There have been 17 total directed at the Navy facility in San Diego since November 2015.
“The bomb threats on and around Naval Base San Diego since November 2015 have had a huge negative impact on the efficiency and productivity of the shipyard’s efforts to maintain Navy readiness,” said Gunnar Newquist, special agent in charge of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service Southwest Field Office.
Newquist said that the schemes were likely a way to get back at a co-worker or boss, or simply to be able to leave work early.
In one example May 17, 26-year-old Joshua Rice reported to security that he came across the word “bomb” written in a portable toilet beside docked naval ships. This prompted a full security response, including a team of K-9 officers, which shut down work on the vessels and closed down the pier for hours.
Rice was working for American Marine as a contractor and will appear in court Jan. 30.
Robert Rubio, the second contractor, who worked for BAE Systems, was charged with writing “9-24-16 400 bomb” on the wall of the USS Cowpens Sept. 24. He told another contractor about what he had discovered, which then resulted in a full security team response from the San Diego Ship Repair Facility.
Again, like the time before, work ceased aboard the ship until authorities declared that all was safe.
“Everyone should know that making false bomb threats is taken very seriously by federal law enforcement, and it is a felony offense,” U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said.
“This is not a legal or smart way of getting out of work,” Duffy added.
Rice and Rubio could face up to five years in prison, if they’re convicted. They may also face a fine of up to $250,000.
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