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Lakewood man charged with bomb threat over COVID relief loan

A Lakewood man has been accused of threatening to bomb the offices of a federal agency that denied his application for an emergency pandemic loan for a business he runs from his home.

In the first weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, Christopher J. Antoun, 29, applied to the US Small Business Administration for a loan from Federal Student Loan Consulting LLC, a company he owns, according to Thomas Smith, a Department of Homeland Security agent.

When Antoun didn’t get the loan, he sent an angry, all-caps email to the SBA saying his business was eligible for the loan and demanding a $ 1,000 advance immediately, Smith said in a statement. under oath filed in court.

“This goes to my bank account tonight or I start bombing all SBA owned locations,” Antoun wrote in the email he sent on May 3, 2020, according to Smith.

When Antoun was questioned by unidentified law enforcement officers at his home the following week, he admitted to sending the email but claimed he was “drugged on marijuana and drunk. alcohol “at the time and had no intention of bombing the SBA offices,” Smith said.

Antoun promised he would no longer threaten government agencies, Smith said, and consented to a search of his home. No explosives or firearms were found.

Antoun was arrested on Saturday for uttering threats through interstate communication. On Monday, an American investigating judge refused to release him on bail.

Neha Christerna, Antoun’s lawyer, declined to comment.

In the summer and fall of 2021, Antoun again applied for SBA loans and advances, but struggled to get any, according to Smith.

Last week, he sent several SBA employees another angry email punctuated with typos. Smith, an officer with the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Protective Service, included excerpts in his statement to court.

“You’re clearly not going to give it to me, even though you’re supposed to since I became legally eligible!” Antoun wrote.

He told government officials all he cared about was making sure they started to “suffer the consequences.”

“Within an hour, I am picked up and dropped off at the LA district office,” he said. “I’m going to come in with my beautiful, shiny bat.” I’ll start hitting the skulls of the SBA staff.

Once police captured him, Antoun wrote, he would ask his father to provide the media with all his correspondence exposing what he considered to be fraudulent conduct on the part of the SBA. He wrote: “Even if I never get the money and end up going to jail for the next few years, I will be happy. “

Upon receipt of the email, SBA supervisors confirmed that no employees were physically present at the agency’s offices in downtown Los Angeles and notified building security officers of the threat.

Three days later, he was arrested.

If convicted, Antoun faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

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