Odessa Man Charged for Suspicious Device Hoax

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

MIDLAND – An Odessa man was charged last week on a federal criminal complaint for his alleged involvement in a hoax concerning the Ector County Courthouse.

According to court documents, on April 7, 2022, David Paul Finnegan, 37, left a suspicious device at the front steps of the Ector County Courthouse.  The device consisted of a large PVC pipe containing miscellaneous objects.  It was held together with black tape and had a wristwatch taped to it.  The Odessa Police Department Explosives Ordinance Disposal (EOD) team was called out to examine the device.  After the EOD technicians rendered it safe, they determined the device did not contain explosives.

Further investigation revealed Finnegan was scheduled to be sentenced at the courthouse the day he planted the device.  As a result of its discovery, the Ector County Courthouse had to be evacuated and shut down to the public for much of the day, causing various court proceedings to be postponed, including Finnegan’s sentencing.

Finnegan is charged with one count of perpetrating a hoax. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Finnegan had his initial appearance today before United States Magistrate Judge Ronald Griffin.

U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff of the Western District of Texas and FBI Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey R. Downey, El Paso Office, made the announcement.

The FBI, with valuable assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); the Ector County Sheriff’s Office; Odessa Police Department; and the Texas Department of Public Safety, is investigating the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Fedock is prosecuting the case.

A criminal complaint is merely an allegation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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