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East Longmeadow man sentenced to 5 years in prison in attempted bombing of Jewish senior facility

An East Longmeadow man who was convicted of placing a lit firebomb outside a Jewish-sponsored assisted living facility in 2020 was sentenced in federal court Tuesday to five years in prison, the US attorney’s office for Massachusetts said in a statement.

John Rathbun, 37, will serve three years of supervised release following his prison sentence and was ordered by US District Court Judge Mark Mastroianni to stay away from the campus of Jewish Geriatric Services Lifecare, Inc., in Longmeadow, the US attorney’s office said.

“Mr. Rathbun’s hate-filled and ruthless actions put the entire Longmeadow community at risk,” US Attorney Rachael Rollins said in a statement. “Today’s sentence sends a powerful message that hate and bigotry have no place in Massachusetts. Everyone deserves to live free of fear and authentically and fully as themselves.”


Rathbun was convicted in June by a federal jury on one count 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, and one count of 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, prosecutors said.

A separate federal jury convicted Rathbun in November of lying to the FBI when he told a federal agent that he was at home on April 2, 2020, the day the device was planted at the driveway entrance of Jewish Geriatric Services Lifecare in Longmeadow, the US attorney’s office said.

Prosecutors said the homemade firebomb consisted of a five-gallon Scepter fuel tank filled with gasoline and pages from a Christian religious pamphlet that were used as a wick. Rathbun’s DNA was found on the fuel tank and on the pamphlet, the US attorney’s office said.