A Georgia man was sentenced to three years in federal prison for sending threatening communications to multiple Palm Beach County locations.
Twenty-six-year-old Preston Alexander McWaters of Athens, Ga., received a 42-month prison sentence by United States District Court Judge James I. Cohn. McWaters pled guilty before Cohn in a Fort Lauderdale courtroom to four counts of transmitting a threat in interstate commerce to injure another person and two counts of conveying false and misleading information indicating that a bombing of a place of public use would take place.
McWaters, prosecutors testified, sent numerous communications over several months in late 2015 and early 2016 threatening to bomb various locations in Palm Beach County. McWaters’ targets included a business, school, hospital and the Palm Beach International Airport.
In addition to the bomb threats, prosecutors testified McWaters made threats to injure a woman who had previously obtained a protective order against him and to injure the family of a high school principal.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation was able to trace the threats to McWaters, who was arrested March 8, 2016. While awaiting sentencing, McWaters continued to send threatening communications, prosecutors testified.
The sentencing was announced on Nov. 29 by Wilfredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge for the FBI Miami Field Office and Lawrence Leon, Chief of the Palm Beach County School District Police Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Fels told the Sun Sentinel the case was the most “devious” ever worked in his 10-year career with the Justice Department. McWaters, prosecutors testified, bought a phone and registered a number with a 561 area code. He then used an app to conceal his identity, investigators determined, and made bomb threats via Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Multiple agencies co-operated in the investigation, including the West Palm Beach Police Department, the Jupiter Police Department, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office, Clarke County Georgia Police Department and University of Georgia Police Department.
Joining Fels on the prosecution team were Assistant U.S. Attorneys Edward Nucci and Karen Gilbert.
Cohn ordered McWaters to undergo therapy, alcohol abuse treatment and begin taking medication. During the trial, it was revealed McWaters was diagnosed with adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
At the sentencing McWaters apologized for his actions.