Rockingham County courthouse bomb suspect expected to plead guilty
BRENTWOOD - A Somersworth man who allegedly phoned in a bomb threat at the county courthouse will plead guilty to charges of making a false report about explosives, and to an earlier case he tried to avoid by calling in the threat.
Jonathan Long, 27, will enter his guilty plea to both cases on May 3 in Rockingham County Superior Court. He is currently being held without bail at the county jail. Terms of the deal have not yet been made public, but Long is facing four felony charges - each punishable by up to 3½ to 7 years in state prison.
Long's phone call - made a short distance from the courthouse - was viewed by at least one eyewitness and set off an emergency response that shut down the building for hours and cost thousands of dollars, according to investigators. A state police K-9 scoured in and around the Brentwood courthouse but determined that no explosive device was present.
The court hearing Long was trying to avoid when he allegedly called in the threat Dec. 4 involved him pleading guilty to charges that he created a bogus letter in a bid to get himself out of jail. Long began serving a 12-month jail sentence on Nov. 30 for violating the terms of his probation after being convicted of forgery in 2007 and theft in 2008, court records show.
While sitting in county jail, Long called his wife with a plan to win his freedom by fabricating a claim that his 2-month-old son needed surgery to drain fluid around his brain, prosecutors said. Long told his wife to create a letter that looked like it came from a doctor at Boston Children's Hospital, according to prosecutors.
He attached the letter to a court pleading requesting electronic monitoring in an attempt to dupe a judge and prosecutor, according to indictments. What Long did not know at the time was that all outgoing jail calls are monitored and reviewed by corrections officers - something that came back to haunt him twice, investigators said.
The phone calls to his wife between Jan. 22 and 27 led to an investigation by the sheriff's department in the bogus letter case. Long's voice - also recorded on a 911 call reporting the bomb threat - was familiar to a sheriff's deputy who investigated the earlier case.
"One of the investigators heard it and recognized the voice," Maj. Al Brackett said in an earlier interview.
Long also failed to appear at his 9 a.m. court hearing where he was expected to plead guilty to charges two counts of falsifying physical evidence, according to Brackett. Long now also faces charges of false report as to explosives and bail jumping.
The sheriff's department said earlier that it will pursue restitution for the emergency response if Long is convicted. The cost was estimated at about $4,000.