Severn man, 21, sentenced for bomb threat at school Officials say he's 1st adult jailed for crime in Arundel

October 10, 1998|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

An Anne Arundel County district judge yesterday sent a 21-year-old Severn man to jail for six months for telephoning a false bomb threat to his former high school.

It was the first time a county judge had incarcerated an adult for the misdemeanor crime that beset county schools last year and sparked efforts to tighten laws. Juveniles were found responsible for the others, prosecutors and his defense lawyer said.

Judge Robert C. Wilcox refused to let William H. Defibaugh of the 300 block of Anna Court continue working while spending nights in jail, but the judge suspended another six months of jail time. Wilcox also placed Defibaugh on 18 months of supervised probation and ordered him to pay $2,000 restitution and send letters of apology to the judge, the school and the Capital newspaper in Annapolis.

Assistant State's Attorney Shelly A. Stickell, who sought unspecified jail time, said Wilcox told Defibaugh to write more than a perfunctory " 'Sorry.' I want to be moved to tears."

Peter S. O'Neill, Defibaugh's defense lawyer, said, "I think Judge Wilcox wanted to send a message to the community that if people engage in this type of conduct, there are going to be severe consequences. It is unfortunate he was the scapegoat."

O'Neill said his client has severe learning disabilities and well-below-average intelligence. He had sought probation, which a presentence report recommended.

The maximum punishment is one year in jail and a $10,000 fine.

Defibaugh was convicted in May of making a bomb threat in September 1997 to Old Mill Senior High School, from which he graduated.

Fake bomb threats to the county's public schools skyrocketed in the 1997-1998 school year, reaching 143 by April 24. This year, one Anne Arundel school has been evacuated, said spokeswoman Jane W. Doyle.

Pub Date: 10/10/98

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