Man sentenced for bomb threat to Houston synagogue

Anthony Weiss

(JTA) — A man living in Houston was sentenced to 33 months in prison for phoning a bomb threat to a city synagogue.

Dante Phearse, 33, was sentenced in federal court for threatening to bomb Congregation Beth Israel, according to a statement issued by the U.S. Justice Department. The statement said Phearse was an ex-convict with a long criminal record and a history of mental illness.

U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt also ordered Phearse to pay $13,000 in restitution and to serve three years of supervised release after his prison term.

Phearse had pleaded guilty on April 28 to charges of violating the civil rights of synagogue members and making a telephone bomb threat. He could have received a prison sentence of up to 30 years.

On April 30, 2013, Phearse telephoned Congregation Beth Israel, the oldest Jewish congregation in Texas, and left a rambling message in which he claimed at various times to represent the Masons, the Shriners, the Eastern Stars, the Illuminati and a Satanist group, and demanded that the synagogue “tell your students the truth” or the synagogue would be bombed.

He has also been accused of phoning bomb threats on the same day to the Conservative synagogue Congregation Or Ami, the City of Houston Municipal Courts Building and a private business.

The threat forced Congregation Beth Israel, a Reform synagogue, to close its school for a day and hire extra security.