Long Island Man Arrested in $2 Million Extortion Plot

Daniel Sheehan, 50, a Home Depot employee, has been charged in a federal criminal complaint with attempting to extort Home Depot, a business in interstate commerce, and using a destructive device in furtherance of the extortion scheme. The defendant faces a 30-year mandatory minimum sentence and a maximum of life in prison if convicted of these charges.

The arrest and charges were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Thomas J. Spota, III, Suffolk County District Attorney; Edward Webber, Commissioner, Suffolk County Police Department; and Mary Galligan, Acting Assistant Director in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office.

Sheehan, who was arrested late yesterday, is scheduled to make his initial court appearance this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Gary R. Brown at the federal courthouse in Central Islip, New York.

According to the complaint, in mid-October of this year, Sheehan allegedly sent an anonymous ransom demand letter to the Home Depot store located in Huntington, New York, warning the store manager that he had hidden a bomb in the Home Depot’s lighting department as a demonstration of his ability to place a bomb in the store without detection. On October 15, 2012, law enforcement authorities located the operational pipe bomb in the Huntington Home Depot’s lighting department, moved it to a safe area, and rendered it harmless through a controlled detonation.

The ransom letter warned that if Home Depot did not pay a $2 million ransom, Sheehan would shut down all of Home Depot’s Long Island stores on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, by detonating three pipe bombs, each armed with a pound of roofing nails, in three separate Home Depot locations.

The ransom letter set forth a date and time at which Sheehan would make a ransom telephone call to Home Depot to relay instructions regarding the ransom payment. At the appointed date and time, Sheehan placed the ransom call to Home Depot from a cellular phone. During that call, Sheehan reiterated his $2 million ransom demand and advised that the ransom must be paid on a specified date. In a subsequent, anonymous ransom letter, Sheehan lowered the ransom demand to $1 million, demanded that payment be made on October 26, 2012, and threatened to show up for the money drop wearing explosive devices and having placed an additional explosive device in a Home Depot store.

Through the use of various investigative techniques, federal, state, and local law enforcement teamed up to identify, locate, and arrest Sheehan. At the time of his arrest, the cellular phone used to make the ransom call was found in Sheehan’s possession.

“As alleged in the criminal complaint, Sheehan put lives at risk and tried to hold the people of Long Island hostage to his extortionate demands. He tried to negotiate with Home Depot but failed to factor in the relentless determination of the dedicated law enforcement team that worked around the clock to foil his plot. There is no bargaining to be had with human life, and the only payout Sheehan will receive will be the full measure of justice for his actions. Sheehan’s arrest sends an unequivocal message that those who plot against our economy and the people of Long Island will be brought to justice,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. Ms. Lynch expressed her grateful appreciation to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, the Suffolk County Police Department, the Nassau County Police Department, the Suffolk County Probation Department, and the FBI for their invaluable cooperation and assistance in the investigation.

District Attorney Spota stated, “I commend all of the dedicated prosecutors, police officers, and agents who worked tirelessly on this investigation to make certain our citizens were safe and that the alleged perpetrator of this despicable scheme was apprehended.”

Police Commissioner Webber stated, “The apprehension of this individual in coordination with the FBI is an example of the effective working relationship between our two agencies. It took unprecedented cooperation and coordination to bring this complex investigation to a successful conclusion. This successful effort highlights our common goal of insuring the safety of the residents of Suffolk County.”

FBI Acting Assistant Director in Charge Galligan stated, “Whatever his motivation, the defendant made extortionate demands of Home Depot. His threats were accorded the seriousness assigned to someone with a demonstrated ability to build bombs. The scheme caused economic loss, was a huge drain on law enforcement resources, and threatened the safety of untold numbers of innocent people, any one of which is unacceptable.”

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Lara Treinis Gatz, John J. Durham, and Sean C. Flynn.

The charges contained in the complaint are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.