State

Mail carrier who sent dud pipe bombs apologizes

CHICAGO – A former Iowa letter carrier who sent threatening letters and dud pipe bombs to investment firms has apologized in a federal courtroom in Chicago, telling a judge that he is ashamed of what he did.

John Tomkins, who signed his notes “The Bishop,” made the apology at a pre-sentencing hearing Friday, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

“Let me start by saying how incredibly sorry I am,” Tomkins told the judge. “There are no words to describe the shame and disappointment I feel in myself.”

In court testimony last year, Tomkins admitted to sending threatening letters and nonfunctioning bombs to investment advisers from 2005 to early 2007 as part of an extortion scheme intended to drive up the value of stocks he owned.

A jury found the Dubuque, Iowa, native guilty of all 12 charges he faced. Judge Robert Dow says he will sentence Tomkins May 21.

The letters contained threats to kill the recipients, their families or neighbors unless they took steps to raise the price of 3COM Corp. and Navarre Corp. stocks. Packages included notes reading, “BANG! YOU’RE DEAD.”

On Friday, Tomkins repeated his insistence that he carefully designed the bombs so they would never explode, not even by accident.

Prosecutors allege the bombs, mailed from a Rolling Meadows post office in 2007, were real and would have exploded had all the wires been attached.

One package was sent to an address in Denver and another to Kansas City, Mo.

Federal prosecutor Patrick Pope said Friday that the bombs could have brought down a plane while in the postal system and the 17 people who received extortion letters from Tomkins were “terrorized.”

He argued for a sentence of 42 to 45 years. That is 12 to 15 more years than the mandatory minimum of 30 years.

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