Feds Convict Options Trading Pipe Bomber

May 7, 2012

On Jan. 26, 2007, two packages were each mailed from the Rolling Meadows Post Office, northwest of Chicago, IL. One package was addressed to an individual at Janus Small Cap, Denver, CO (thereafter forwarded unopened by Janus to a related investment entity in Chicago); and the other to an individual at American Century, Kansas City, MO.  Each parcel contained a pipe bomb (which authorities recovered upon notification) and a letter stating:


Stop and think about that for a second. Think about the effect it would have on your family. The only reason you are still alive is because I did not attach one wire. If you do not believe me then go ahead and touch that red wire to the top of the battery pack. There is enough gunpowder and steel shot in that tube to kill anyone in a ten foot radius when it goes off.

Now imagine how you will feel when I mail that same package to one of your family members or neighbors or co-workers and yes I will be sure to connect all the little wires. Now if you decide you want to keep the people around you safe, you will do as I say.

On February 7, 8, & 9 there is going to be a rally in the stock price in a companycalled Navarre (NAVR).

On the 7th the closing price will be above 4.90

On the 8th the closing price will be above 5.75

And on the 9th the closing price will be above 6.50

This is not a hoax.

There is nothing the police or anybody else can do so do not contact them.Everything that it takes to make these little care packages can be purchase at any Home Depot & Wal-Mart so there is nothing to be traced. There are no finger prints or DNA and nothing to match it to, so be smart and do what I am asking. Although you are not alone, all of you will be punished if you fail.

As noted in the letter, the parcels contained a pipe bomb with a disconnected firing circuit - notwithstanding, the bombs were full functional and if jostled or otherwise impacted, capable of exploding and causing serious injury or death to those nearby.

Additional Threats

Starting around May 2005 through October 2005, several additional threatening communications were sent to investment companies and persons associated with them with  postmarks from Chicago, Palatine, Milwaukee, Des Moines, and Orlando, and some were signed "THE BISHOP," while others ended with the words "TIC TOC." The first letter, for example, stated how easy it is to kill someone, citing "The Unibomber" (sic) and "Salvo," which authorities now deem to have been a reference to convicted sniper Lee Malvo. In addition to threatening language, some of the letters demanded that the share price of the former 3Com Corporation (ticker symbol: COMS) be raised to $6.66 by a certain date.

Around March 13, 2006, four letters postmarked Des Moines, Iowa were sent. Three were sent to investment company executives nad one letter was addressed to a senior officer of Navarre Corporation, a publicly traded technology and entertainment company. Among other statements, that letter to the Navarre officer  complained of the officer's compensation and the stock price's decline and demanded a rally in the stock price. The letter eventually concluded with the word "TicToc" and was signed by "The BISHOP".

On June 9, 2006, four letters were sent from Palatine, IL, on July 17, 2006 three letters were sent from Orlando, FL, containing similar threats.

Tracking Down Their Man

Large Options Position Reports (LOPR) were obtained from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") showing individuals with positions of at least 200 option contracts. Reports dated September 25, 2005, and October 25, 2005, were obtained for 3Com Corporation. Reports dated June 15, 2006 and January 30, 2007 were obtained for Navarre Corporation. The only identified individual (i.e., non-institutional) investor account appearing on each of the four reports was in the name of John and Julie Tomkins, 2067 Grant St., Dubuque, IA.

Following further investigation that included handwriting analysis, stock trading records, tracking a 1993 four-door Chevrolet Lumina that was determined to have been the vehicle of origin in a photograph included in one of  the threatening letters, and other evidence, John P. Tomkins, 47, a machinist from Dubuque, IA, was determined to have been the likely suspect.

On April 25, 2007, Tomkins was arrested and law enforcement officials searched storage garages in Dubuque that were rented by him, where they located two additional assembled pipe bombs similar to the ones that were mailed, as well as all of the components used in making the mailed devices. Pointedly, investigators recovered store receipts for

  • shotgun shells containing the explosive powder that was used in the mailed pipe bombs and was purchased in Madison, WI, twenty-three days before the two package bombs were mailed; and
  • end caps used to assemble the devices that were purchased in Dubuque just two days before they were mailed in January 2007.

On September 18 2007, Tomkins was indicted by a federal grand jury on 10 counts of securities fraud, two counts of mailing a threatening communication with intent to extort, two counts of possession of an unregistered destructive device, and one count of using a destructive device while committing a violent crime.

Trial And Conviction

After a two-week trial and only several hours of deliberation,on May4, a federal jury in the Northern District of Illinois convicted Tomkins of mailing a dozen threatening letters to investment companies and individuals associated with them between May 23, 2005, and July 17, 2006.  Tomkins (who represented himself at trial) was found guilty on the following counts (mandatory minimum prison sentences noted):

  • using a destructive device while mailing a threatening communication: 30 years to life
  • two counts of possessing a unregistered destructive device: 10 years each
  • nine counts of mailing a threatening communication: 20 years each

For a fascinating glimpse into how this case was broken, READ the federal criminalComplaint and the Indictment. Compliments to all involved in tracking down Tomkins. An impressive job!