MIDLAND – An Odessa man was sentenced Tuesday to 41 months in prison for his involvement in a bomb hoax at 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 have hearings on various matters at the courthouse the day he planted the device. As a result of its discovery, the courthouse was evacuated and shut down to the public for much of the day, causing various court proceedings to be postponed, including Finnegan’s.
On June 13, 2022, Finnegan pleaded guilty to one count of perpetrating a hoax. Finnegan has remained in federal custody since his arrest on April 14, 2022.
“Not only did this bomb hoax cause the Ector County courthouse and multiple local businesses to be shut down, but the event also required federal and local law enforcement agencies to expend significant time, resources, and taxpayer dollars to render the area safe and identify the perpetrator,” said U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff. “Let this prosecution send a strong message that such behavior will not be tolerated in our communities.”
“Hoax threats are dangerous to first responders and to the victims because it is not always immediately clear whether it is a hoax and the motivation behind the threat,” said Jeffrey R. Downey, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI El Paso Field Office. “Public safety is paramount, and the FBI and our state and local law enforcement partners always respond to each threat. Anyone who issues a hoax threat will be held accountable. Due to the collaborative work with our local, state and federal partners, we were able to locate Mr. Finnegan and bring him to justice for the fear he instilled into the residents of Odessa .”
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, investigated the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John Fedock prosecuted the case.