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Woman receives 18-month federal prison sentence for Athens Democratic campaign office bomb threat

By Joe Johnson

A former security subcontractor who worked at the Athens-Clarke County Democratic Party campaign office was sentenced to serve 18 months in prison for sending a threatening message to bomb their local headquarters the day before the two Democratic U.S. Senators from Georgia were in town for campaign events.

Jessica Diane Higginbotham aka Jessica Harriod aka Jessica Jones, 35, of Elberton, Georgia, was sentenced to serve 18 months in prison to be followed by two years of supervised release by U.S. District Judge Tilman E. "Tripp" Self III Monday in U.S.District Court in Macon. Higginbotham had pleaded guilty to one count of communicating a bomb threat on May 16. There is no parole in federal prison.

"Threats of violence intended to disturb the peace and disrupt the democratic process are taken seriously in the Middle District of Georgia and will not be tolerated," said U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary. "I commend the many local and federal law enforcement agents whose collaboration in this case ensured a safe outcome for our community."

"Higginbotham's threat, although a hoax, diverted precious law enforcement resources and wasted taxpayer dollars, and for that she will be held accountable by spending time behind bars," said Robert Gibbs, Supervisory Senior Resident Agent of FBI Atlanta's Macon office.

"The ACCPD takes threats of violence seriously. Once we learned of these threats our officers and detectives worked alongside state and federal partners to identify and arrest the offender," said Athens-Clarke County Police Chief Jerry Saulters.

According to court documents, on Dec. 3, 2022, at 6:01 p.m., an employee of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in Athens received a text message: "Hello, I am writing this message to you to let you know that I am coming by either tonight or in the morning to set a bomb up. So I can blow all the Democrats up. I have other people going to other offices also. If I can't stop you by breaking in and destroying the property then I will blow every one up. So be ready to be blown up. This is going to either happen tonight or in the morning. Hope you like being on the wrong team."

The FBI began investigating the threat immediately, and officers from ACCPD responded to the area of the threat. The U.S. Senate runoff election was scheduled to take place on Dec. 6, and elected officials were in Athens participating in campaign events, including Georgia senators Rafael Warnock and Jon Osoff on Dec. 4. Using a series of emergency disclosure requests, FBI agents discovered the cellphone belonged to the defendant, who was also working as a contract security officer for a firm employed by the local Democratic coordinated campaign. The U.S. Capitol Police were also investigating the bomb threat, and independently determined that the bomb threat was sent from Higginbotham's cell phone.

On Dec. 4, FBI task force officers located Higginbotham at a coffee shop in Athens with the cell phone in her hands. When she saw the agents approach her, she vomited. At first, she denied sending the bomb threat. A federal search warrant was executed on her phone, which linked the email account used in the bomb threat to her. While investigating the bomb threat, agents learned that there had been a break-in at the local Democratic campaign building in Athens on Nov. 27, and a laptop belonging to the campaign was stolen. At the time of the burglary, investigators noted that it appeared to be have been staged, as tables were turned over, but the building was locked with no evidence of forced entry. Investigators later recovered the stolen laptop with Higginbotham's personal items. Higginbotham now admits that she used a cellphone to threaten to kill or injure people and destroy a building with an explosive.

The case was investigated by the FBI, the U.S. Capitol Police, the Athens-Clarke County Police Department and the Elbert County Sheriff's Office.

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Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson

I can't believe she was caught. Judging by her grammar, she was a well educated, super smart person. The conservative party will suffer dearly losing such a devoted follower.

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