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Man indicted for placing homemade explosive near Jewish senior facility in Longmeadow

An East Longmeadow man was indicted by a federal grand jury Tuesday for allegedly planting an incendiary device outside a Jewish-sponsored senior health care facility in Longmeadow, according to the US attorney’s office for Massachusetts.

John Michael Rathbun, 36, was indicted on two explosives charges for allegedly leaving a homemade device near an entrance to Ruth’s House, owned by Jewish Geriatric Services Lifecare Inc. in Longmeadow, according to a statement from the office of US Attorney Andrew E. Lelling.

“The device consisted of a 5-gallon Scepter fuel canister, approximately one-third filled with gasoline, and a partially charred Christian religious pamphlet placed in the nozzle of the canister,” Lelling’s office said.

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Prosecutors have alleged Rathbun was motivated by anti-Semitism. He was arrested in mid-April and then released to home confinement because of the coronavirus pandemic when he appeared in US District Court in Springfield.

A status conference in the case is scheduled for July 16, a spokeswoman for Lelling said.

For one charge — attempting to maliciously damage or destroy, by means of fire or an explosive, any building, vehicle, or other real or personal property used in interstate or foreign commerce — Rathbun faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and a maximum of 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000, according to federal prosecutors.

For the charge of attempting to transport or receive explosive devices in interstate or foreign commerce with the knowledge or intent that the device will be used to kill, injure, or intimidate any individual or unlawfully to damage or destroy any building, vehicle, or other real or personal property, Rathbun faces up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.


Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.