A South Los Angeles man pleaded guilty Monday to making a bizarre series of online threats to kill law enforcement personnel and disrupt proceedings at the Inglewood courthouse and elsewhere.
John Patrice Hale, 42, who used the online moniker “Frost K Blizzard,” entered his plea to a federal count of making threats to injure in interstate commerce, which means that he used the internet in making the threats.
The charge carries a possible prison term of up to five years, but Hale’s plea deal calls for a sentence of no more than 18 months.
Hale made the online threats in May 2017, after a real estate broker commenced legal proceedings in the Inglewood Courthouse to evict him and others from a home in the area. The threats were an effort to disrupt those proceedings and to retaliate against the broker, as well as to disrupt his stepdaughter’s job at a Los Angeles moving and storage company after the pair had an argument, according to his plea agreement.
In the messages, Hale threatened to set off explosives planted in sheriff’s vehicles at the courthouse. The threat prompted the evacuation of the courthouse, and both the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Arson and Explosives Unit and the Threat Interdiction Unit responded.
In court, as Assistant U.S. Attorney George E. Pence read aloud the messages Hale admitted sending, the defendant put his head in his hands. Defense attorney Deborah Elise Gonzalez motioned for him to take a seat, where Hale sat doubled over.
Asked by U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer to explain in his own words what he had done, Hale responded, “I sent threats to Inglewood police.” The judge accepted the statement.
As Pence explained, two threats were made to the sheriff’s department, through its Court Services Division website, on May 15, 2017, with the sender promising to “take out as many officers that pull out (of) your parking structure.”
Two more threats made a day later warned of explosives planted under a patrol car at the Inglewood sheriff’s station, saying the impact would be felt for “half city block.” The threats again prompted a significant response by law enforcement and evacuation of the Inglewood courthouse.
In addition to those threats, Hale sent a threat to the moving company that employed his stepdaughter on May 23, 2017, that read: “All praises to Allah. Today, we will detonate an explosive at your La Brea and Arbor Vitae location if our needs aren’t met by your company. ISIS.”
Hale also admitted that, two days later, he submitted bogus information to the FBI’s Tips and Public Leads web page, despite a warning that submitting a false tip could result in a fine and/or imprisonment.
Hale claimed on the site that he knew a man who “would supply ISIS with explosives even planting them for them,” and who had received instructions from ISIS “to send Inglewood sheriff department bomb threats via email.”
Gonzalez declined to comment following the hearing.
Although some of the threats invoked ISIS, authorities have not uncovered any evidence linking Hale to international terrorism, federal prosecutors said.