Former Congressional Candidate Charged With Making Bomb Threats

Eric Hafner (File Photo)

  TRENTON – A former Monmouth County resident, who at one time was listed as living in Toms River, while in hiding and simultaneously running for Congress in Oregon, has been indicted on making bomb threats.

  Eric G. Hafner, 28, allegedly used phone calls and emails to elected state officials, judges, law enforcement officers, and attorneys to threaten them, and called in false bomb threats to local and state government offices, a police department, two law firms, and a business, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

“As charged in the Indictment, the defendant embarked on a campaign of terror directed at judges, elected officials, and members of law enforcement in Monmouth County and elsewhere,” U.S. Attorney Carpenito said. “He threatened to detonate bombs and kill and otherwise harm his victims, all in an effort to cause psychological harm to and extort hundreds of thousands of dollars from them. As a result of this federal prosecution, his serious crimes now face serious consequences.”

  “Hafner’s actions were intended to – and in fact did – create fear to numerous citizens in the Monmouth County community,” Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said. “In addition, significant law enforcement resources were wasted in responding to these false bomb threats. Even though these threats were false, the fear and psychological trauma felt by the victims during these incidents were very real.”

  In 2018, he ran for Congress in Oregon despite not living there. He did not win. According to the Asbury Park Press, his mother, Carol Hafner, used the same Toms River address as him when she ran unsuccessfully for a position in Alaska. She is currently seeking a seat in Wyoming.

  The first charge came when he was arrested in the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory, on Sept. 27, police said.

  He was charged with nine counts of making threatening communications in interstate or foreign commerce with intent to extort. Each count is punishable by a possible 20 years in prison, and a maximum fine of $250,000. He is also charged with 18 counts of making threatening communications in interstate or foreign commerce, with each count having a possible five years in prison, and a maximum fine of $250,000. There were also six counts of conveying false information concerning the use of an explosive device, with each count carrying a potential penalty of 10 years and $250,000.

  Suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty.

  U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, Newark Division, Red Bank Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie; detectives of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni; officers of the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Shaun Golden; officers of the N.J. State Police, under the direction of Col. Patrick J. Callahan; special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Charlie J. Patterson; officers of the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Michael G. Mastronardy; officers of the Bradley Beach Police Department, under the direction of Chief of Police Leonard A. Guida; officers of the Fairhaven Police Department, under the direction of Chief of Police Joseph McGovern; officers of the Aberdeen Police Department, under the direction of Chief Richard A. Derechailo; officers of the Hazlet Police Department, under the direction of Chief Phillip Meehan; officers of the Shrewsbury Police Department, under the direction of Chief Robert G. Turner; officers of the Red Bank Police Department, under the direction of Chief Stephen G. McCarthy; officers of the Freehold Township Police Department, under the direction of Chief Ernest Schriefer; officers of the Middletown Police Department, under the direction of Chief Craig R. Weber; officers of the Neptune Township Police Department, under the direction of Chief James M. Hunt, Jr.; officers of the Oceanport Police Department, under the direction of Chief Michael P. Kelly; officers of the Deal Police Department, under the direction of Chief Ronen Neuman; officers of the Manasquan Police Department, under the direction of Chief Michael Bauer; the U.S. Park Police; N.J. Transit Police; and West Orange Police Department, with the investigation leading to today’s charges.