The Justice Department today announced that Dustin Allen Hughes, 26, of Cutler Bay, Florida, pleaded guilty June 28, in the Southern District of Florida to charges he threatened to blow up a mosque. Hughes faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 6 before U.S. District Judge Federico A. Moreno in Miami.
Hughes was charged with one count of obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs through the threatened use of a dangerous weapon and explosive, in connection with making a phone call in which he threatened to detonate a bomb at a mosque in Pembroke Pines, Florida.
During the plea hearing, Hughes admitted that on May 5, he called an emergency contact for the Jamaat Ul Muttaqeen Mosque of Pembroke Pines, Florida, and left a hate-filled and profanity-laden voicemail message denigrating Islam and threatening to blow up the mosque, the Justice Department press release said.
Hughes further admitted that in his message he said that he had a detonator, that he was “going to blow your . . . temple up,” and that “you guys are all going to be up in flames after I’m done with you.”
Following the threatening voice message, law enforcement did an extensive exterior and interior sweep of the mosque but no bomb was uncovered.
“Our office is committed to protecting the right to freely exercise one’s religious beliefs,” United States Attorney Benjamin Greenberg for the Southern District of Florida, is quoted saying in the press release. “Obstructing this right, by force or threat of force, constitutes a hate crime that we will continue to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.”
“The Justice Department will not tolerate threats of hate violence, which threaten an entire community’s sense of safety and security,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore. “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute hate crimes so that all people, no matter how they worship, can live their lives freely and without fear.”