COLUMBUS, Ohio — A former Ohio State student accused of emailing the FBI a bogus warning that nine bombs were set to go off at the university was sentenced Thursday to six months in federal prison.
U.S. District Judge Edmund Sargus Jr. also sentenced Jonathan Birkemeyer of Columbus to three years of supervised release to include three months in a halfway house and three months of home confinement.
The sentence also allows the 25-year-old Birkemeyer to get needed counseling, said his attorney, Keith Schneider.
“It was a very fair and equitable sentence that will both thwart the kind of conduct that occurred and give my client the treatment ... he needs,” he said.
Birkemeyer pleaded guilty in June to maliciously conveying false information concerning an attempt to destroy property by means of explosives.
Birkemeyer was a student when he sent the November email claiming he found a map showing bombs set to be triggered in door jambs in four campus buildings, investigators said.
The threat prompted the closure of four buildings and three streets and for a day disrupted life at one of the country’s largest universities.
Investigators have said Birkemeyer was struggling to make the transition from the military to college life and emailed the threat the day he was scheduled to take an exam in one of the buildings he named in the message.
A criminology student, he enrolled at Ohio State in the fall of 2009 after being honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy. He has since withdrawn from the school.
Birkemeyer used a stolen Apple MacBook to check the FBI tip site and maps of Ohio State before using a stolen iPod to send the threat to an FBI public tips website, authorities said. FBI agents said the bureau identified the Internet address assigned to the iPod and learned that Birkemeyer had accessed his Facebook account from the same address 13 minutes before the email was sent.
A U.S. Marine had reported the iPod stolen aboard the USS John C. Stennis during the same time Birkemeyer was aboard, investigators said.
Birkemeyer has also pleaded guilty in Franklin County to a state charge of breaking and entering into an apartment near campus in October 2010 in connection with the theft of the MacBook. A sentencing hearing on the charge is scheduled for Friday, and the prosecution and defense have recommended that the judge order any state sentence to run concurrently with Birkemeyer’s federal sentence.