Man gets 5 years for trying to burn Jewish living facility

A man convicted of using a homemade bomb to try to burn a Jewish-sponsored assisted living home in Massachusetts has been sentenced to five years in prison.

In addition to his prison term, John Rathbun, 37, of East Longmeadow, was sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Springfield to three years of probation and ordered to stay away from the home.

Rathbun assembled, placed and lit a 5-gallon (19-liter) canister of gasoline — with pages from a Christian pamphlet as the wick — outside an entrance of a building at Jewish Geriatric Services Lifecare Inc. in Longmeadow on April 2, 2020, according to prosecutors.

The facility is a Jewish-sponsored assisted living center for seniors of all faiths, according to its website.

No one was injured.

Rathbun's DNA was found on the canister and the pamphlet, prosecutors said.

He was convicted by a jury in June of two federal charges related to the bombing attempt. He was also convicted by a separate jury in November 2020 of lying to FBI investigators about his whereabouts on the day the device was found.

“There is no way to undo the damage John Rathbun did to the elderly residents of this Jewish assisted living facility, and to the entire community, with his hateful, repulsive, and violent behavior. But today’s sentence does hold him accountable for placing a lit firebomb in their path and for lying to us about it,” Joseph Bonavolonta, head of the FBI's Boston office, said in a statement.

Rathbun's public defender said her client was not driven by antisemitism, but rather was struggling with severe drug addiction at the time.



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