A man who attempted to firebomb a Jewish nursing home has been convicted.
In June, 2020 a federal grand jury in Massachusetts indicted John Michael Rathbun, 37, of East Longmeadow on two counts for using a homemade explosive to commit arson at a Jewish-sponsored assisted living facility.
Rathbun was convicted this week in a Springfield, Massachusetts US District Court of attempting to transport or receive explosive devices and attempting to maliciously damage or destroy personal property in an attempt to kill, injure or intimidate, according to a statement released on Wednesday by the US Attorney’s office in Boston, Massachusetts.
He was accused of trying to blow up Ruth’s House in Londmeadow, a suburb of Springfield, Massachusetts. The nursing home is located within one square mile of other Jewish facilities, including three synagogues, a Jewish private school and a Jewish community center.
Rathbun reportedly placed a 5-gallon gas tank in the entranceway of Ruth’s House. In early April, police discovered the gas tank in the building’s entrance along with gasoline and burnt paper that turned out to be the charred remains of a Christian religious flyer.
Investigators suspected that the flyer had been used as a wick in an attempt to ignite the gasoline.
Blood stains were found on the container. DNA evidence from the blood was used to charge Rathbun.
Sentencing is scheduled for November 12, with Rathbun facing up to 15 years in prison, reported the Associated Press.
During the trial, Rathbun’s lawyer argued that prosecutors failed to provide evidence that his client harbored any anti-Jewish sentiment. He added they were going to appeal the verdict.
In November, Rathbun was convicted of lying to investigators in the case but a retrial was granted after the jury became deadlocked on the arson charges.