Man accused of making more than 20 false threat calls in US, Canada pleads guilty

TACOMA, Washington (AP) — A Washington state man who made more than 20 "swatting" calls across the country and in Canada, prompting emergency responses to his fake bombings, shootings and other threatening reports, pleaded guilty Thursday to four felonies. held guilty for.

Ashton Garcia, 21, pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to two counts of extortion and two counts of uttering threats and fraud in connection with the explosives, U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman said in a news release. it was initially charged With 10 felony counts.

Federal prosecutors say Garcia used voice-over-Internet technology to conceal his identity during calls in 2022 and 2023. He also urged others to listen while broadcasting on the social media platform Discord.

In many cases, Garcia collected personal information about his victims and threatened to dispatch emergency responders to their homes unless they gave money, credit card information, or sexually explicit images.

Prosecutors said law enforcement responded and entered some homes with guns drawn and took people into custody.

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He also broadcast a hoax bomb hoax to a Fox News station in Cleveland, ohio, and for the flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles. In another example, he threatened to bomb an airport in Los Angeles if he did not receive $200,000 in Bitcoin.

Such fraud can prove fatal. In 2017, a police officer in Wichita, kansas, shot a man dead While responding to a fake emergency call.

The indictment does not indicate how investigators identified Garcia as a suspect. Prosecutors are suggesting that Garcia, of Bremerton, serve four years in prison as part of his plea agreement. His sentencing is scheduled for April.

Garcia called agencies in Washington, California, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio. pennsylvaniaColorado, and in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, prosecutors said.

Garcia is being held at the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac, Washington.

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