U.S. District Judge Federico A. Moreno sentenced a Miami area man to four years in prison, three years’ supervised release, and $1,800 in restitution for obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs by threatening, in a phone message, to detonate a bomb at a mosque in Pembroke Pines, Florida, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division John Gore, U.S. Attorney Benjamin G. Greenberg, and Robert F. Lasky, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Miami Field Office announced.
Dustin Allen Hughes, 26, pleaded guilty in June 2018 in the Southern District of Florida to one count of obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs for making the threatening call. During the plea hearing, Hughes admitted that on May 5, he called an emergency contact for the Jamaat Ul Muttaqeen Mosque of Pembroke Pines, Florida, and left a hate-filled and profanity-laden voicemail message denigrating Islam and threatening to blow up the mosque. Hughes further admitted that in his message he specifically stated that he had a detonator, that he was “going to blow your . . . temple up,” and that “you guys are all going to be up in flames after I’m done with you.”
Following the threatening voice message, law enforcement was contacted and immediately responded, but no bomb was uncovered after an extensive exterior and interior sweep of the mosque.
“The sentence handed down today reflects the seriousness of threats to places of worship, which can instill fear in whole communities,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore. “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute hate crimes so that all people, no matter how they worship, can live their lives freely and without fear.”
“This prosecution sends a clear message that committing hate crimes has serious consequences,” said U.S. Attorney Benjamin Greenberg. “Along with our law enforcement partners, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to prosecute those individuals who threaten members of our South Florida community because of their religious beliefs.”
“Freedom of religion is a fundamental right for every American,” said Robert F. Lasky, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Miami Field Office. “The FBI and its partners will work tirelessly to ensure anyone who threatens those rights is held accountable.”
This case was investigated by the FBI’s Miami Area Corruption Task Force and the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). The Pembroke Pines Police Department, the Miami-Dade Police Department, and the City of Miami Police Department also provided assistance with this matter. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Davis of the Southern District of Florida and Trial Attorney Samantha Trepel of the Civil Rights Division.