A man who called police about threats to contaminate the water supplies of Kansas City and other cities was sentenced Monday to two years in federal prison.
Manuel Garcia, 70, had previously been sent to prison for making a bomb threat against the federal courthouse in Kansas City.
In October 2013, Garcia called Kansas City police and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Washington, claiming that the water supplies in Kansas City, St. Louis, Wichita and Topeka would be contaminated in the next 10 to 15 days.
As a precaution, Kansas City police increased helicopter surveillance around water treatment plants for two weeks and assigned snipers and extra patrol teams. Similar responses occurred in the other threatened cities.
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Garcia told FBI agents that for $10,000 and a grant of immunity he would help authorities locate two men who he said planned to dump 55-gallon drums of deadly chemicals into the water supplies.
Officials determined the threats were false and the water supplies were never in jeopardy.
“The law enforcement response to these hoaxes was spread across four different metropolitan areas and included a large number of water treatment facilities for a two-week period,” according to a statement released by Tammy Dickinson, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri.
An FBI agent recognized Garcia’s voice from the earlier case in which he threatened the courthouse in Kansas City. In 2010 he called in a bomb threat that prompted the evacuation of the courthouse and nearby buildings. Authorities found a fake explosive near the courthouse.
Prosecutors asked for a 14-month sentence in that case but Garcia asked for, and received, 18 months because he wanted more time in prison to get treatment for depression and other medical issues. He said he had lost his job and his car, was homeless and had large medical bills.
Garcia is a refugee from Cuba who came to the United States in the 1980s.