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A Fairview Heights man was sentenced in U.S. District Court on September 23, 2011, for making a false threat to detonate an explosive device, and influencing a federal officer by threat, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced today. Roman O. Conaway, 51, was indicted by a federal grand jury on October 5, 2010, in a two-count indictment following a seven-hour standoff with federal authorities. Conaway was sentenced to federal prison for five years, three years of supervised release, and restitution to emergency responders in the amount of $39,868.62. He will be required to comply with psychological counseling upon his release from prison.
“While everyone is sympathetic to Mr. Conaway’s mental issues, terroristic threats are something that no one may take lightly. The court’s carefully thought-out sentence reflects this balance between recognition of those issues and the public’s need for protection from such threats. The professional manner in which the FBI and Secret Service handled this very dangerous situation is a testament to their fidelity, bravery, and integrity. All citizens of Southern Illinois may sleep better knowing that justice was done today,” said United States Attorney Wigginton.
On September 21, 2010, agents of the FBI and United States Secret Service went to Conaway’s home to investigate allegations that he had made threats over the telephone to the leader of a St. Louis area mosque. Conaway walked out of his home to confront the agents wearing what appeared to be an explosive device affixed to his torso as a suicide vest. After a seven-hour standoff, Conaway ultimately surrendered. Count one of the indictment charged that, Conaway attached two bricks of an inert putty-like material designed and formed to replicate blocks of C-4 explosive to a belt that was wired to a homemade detonation device and that he falsely threatened to detonate that explosive device and kill an FBI special agent during the performance of his official duties. Count two of the indictment charged that Conaway also threatened to detonate the purported explosive device and kill a United States Secret Service Special Agent with intent to impede, intimidate, and interfere with the agent while he was engaged in the performance of his official duties. Testimony from the sentencing hearing indicated that Conaway suffered from psychological disorders and snapped after a St. Clair County court entered a protective order in favor of his daughter that precluded him from having contact with his grandchildren.
Representatives from 17 different law enforcement and emergency response agencies participated in ending the seven-hour standoff. The investigation was conducted by the United States Secret Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Steven D. Weinhoeft.