Phony Bomb Threat Suspect Convicted

SNOW HILL – A Virginia man who threatened to drive a truck full of explosives into the Worcester County Government Office Building in Snow Hill in July in order to avoid a court date on theft charges dating back to September 2006 was convicted this week in both cases and faces jail time and a substantial amount of restitution to victims of his scheme.

On July 1, the Worcester County Circuit Court received a letter stating an elite special forces unit from Saudi Arabia was going to drive a truck full of C-4 explosives into a government building. The letter stated the terrorist attacks were going to start with the main Worcester County Government Office Building in Snow Hill on the next day, Wednesday, July 2. In response, security was increased at the government building as a precaution.

The Worcester County Bureau of Investigation (WCBI) began working on the case and quickly identified a suspect, Richard Phillip Matthews, 37, of Greenbackville, Va., formerly of Pocomoke. During the investigation, it was also learned Matthews had called in a bomb threat to the Wicomico County Courthouse back in 2002 in an attempt to postpone a trial there. He later pleaded guilty to arson threat in that case and was sentenced to six years in jail with all but 18 months suspended.

Shortly after Matthews was identified as the suspect in the bomb threat on the Worcester County government building, WCBI detectives determined he was living in Virginia. An arrest warrant was obtained for Matthews and he was arrested by the Accomack County Sheriff’s Office the next day and later returned to Worcester County where he was charged with false statement of a destructive device and arson threat.

This week, Matthews appeared in court in Snow Hill to face both the bomb threat charges and the postponed theft charges dating back to 2006. In the former, Matthews pleaded guilty to false statement-destructive device and was sentenced to five years in jail with all but 18 months suspended. He was also fined $500, placed on probation for three years and forced to pay over $1,100 to the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office.

As for the original theft charges, Matthews pleaded guilty to theft over $500 and was sentenced to two years with all but six months suspended. In that case, he was ordered to pay nearly $8,000 in restitution to the victims of his theft spree including over $4,000 to one victim.