CORPUS CHRISTI, TX—Erasmo Luna, 27, of Robstown, Texas, has been handed a 37-month prison term after having been convicted of persuading or inducing another to use a telephone to communicate bomb threats to the Valero Refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today, along with Stephen L. Morris, special agent in charge of the FBI. Luna pleaded guilty June 25, 2012.
Today, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, who accepted the guilty plea, handed Luna the 37-month prison term, which will be followed by a three-year term of supervised release. Luna was also ordered to pay $145,700 in restitution to Valero. At the hearing today, a Valero representative testified and explained the financial harm such threats have on their company.
“Hoax bomb threats will not be tolerated,” said Morris. “These events are a strain on our resources which impact our mission to protect our country from activities that threaten the safety and security of our society.”
Luna admitted he persuaded his cousin Jose Padilla, 20, also of Robstown, to make a series of calls to the Valero Refinery, claiming there was a bomb on the property. At a previous hearing, Padilla admitted that at approximately 3:15 p.m. on October 25, 2011, he relayed to an individual at the Valero Refinery via telephone that “there’s a bomb in complex six.” Padilla called the refinery a second time at 3:20 p.m. and again six minutes later. Padilla reported, “There’s a bomb in complex six and seven.” Luna, who was working at the refinery, convinced Padilla to call in the threat so he could leave work early.
Luna also acknowledged he instructed Padilla to call in a second threat on October 28, 2011. At 6:08 a.m., Padilla called the Valero Refinery and claimed, “There’s a bomb in complex six. It’s going to blow up between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m.” When the Valero employee tried to ask him a question about the bomb, he replied with profanity and added that the “bomb is going to go, and you need to clear complex six.” Luna instructed Padilla to make the threatening call on that occasion because Luna was late for work.
In response to the threats Valero security, law enforcement personnel, and bomb detection dogs were dispatched and the FBI began an investigation.
Luna will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
Padilla, who pleaded guilty February 9, 2012, to making the bomb threats, will be sentenced on October 18, 2012, before Senior U.S. District Judge Hayden Head. He remains in custody pending that hearing.
The case was investigated by the FBI with the assistance of the Nueces County Sheriff’s Office and the Robstown Police Department and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert D. Thorpe Jr.