TRENTON, N.J. – A former resident of Monmouth County, New Jersey, was indicted today on charges that he made threatening telephone and email communications to elected state officials, judges, law enforcement officers, and attorneys, and phoned in false bomb threats to local and state government offices, a police department, two law firms and a commercial establishment, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today.

Eric G. Hafner, 28, formerly of Monmouth County, New Jersey, was charged by indictment with nine counts of making threating communications in interstate or foreign commerce with intent to extort, each punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison, and a maximum fine of $250,000. He was also charged with 18 counts of making threatening communications in interstate or foreign commerce, each punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison, and a maximum fine of $250,000. Hafner was also charged with six counts of conveying false information concerning the use of an explosive device, each punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison, and a maximum fine of $250,000.

“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.”

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“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.”

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Between July 2016 and May 2018, while residing outside the United States, Hafner allegedly communicated threats to numerous individuals located in and around Monmouth County and elsewhere. The threatening communications targeted elected officials, judges, police officers, attorneys, and their families, and included threats to injure and kill the victims. The defendant sought to extort $350,000 from some of his victims. Hafner also made false bomb threats to an elected official’s office, a county courthouse, a police department, two law firms, and a commercial establishment.

Hafner was originally charged with transmission of threatening communications in a one-count criminal complaint on Oct. 6, 2016, which remained under seal until his arrest in the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. Territory, on Sept. 27, 2019, where he had an initial appearance before Chief U.S. District Judge Ramona V. Manglona. Hafner had his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Tonianne J. Bongiovanni in Trenton federal court upon his arrival in the District of New Jersey on Oct. 23, 2019. At that time, Hafner was ordered detained without bail.

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.

The government is represented by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Ian D. Brater of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Trenton.

The charges and allegations contained in the Indictment are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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Defense counsel: Andrea Bergman Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Trenton

Hafner.Indictment.pdf