By Liam Dacko
Bomb threat suspect Benjamin DiBiase may have been released to the custody of his parents Nov. 9, but do not expect to see him on school grounds anytime soon.
“He is barred from campus,” Campus Police Chief Peter Carnes said.
DiBiase, 21, appeared in Taunton District Court Nov. 9 for a dangerousness hearing, a proceeding held to determine if a person is too dangerous for release or for bail to be set.
Carnes said Lieutenant Detective David Bamford of Campus Police, the lead investigator in the case, and General Counsel Thomas Flynn were present at that hearing.
“Tom Flynn is representing the interests of the College. Lieutenant Detective Dave Bamford was not only involved in the investigation, but he was a liaison to the department in case any questions came up with the district attorney, or any questions for the judge relative to the status of the investigation,” Carnes said.
Carnes said District Court Judge Paula J. Clifford, who presided over the hearing, found DiBiase to be dangerous.
However, he will not be jailed. DiBiase’s attorney, J. Drew Segadelli, told The Summit Clifford denied a request by the district attorney’s office to hold DiBiase on $10,000 bail.
“The D.A. wanted to hold him,” Segadelli said. “A 21-year-old with no record.” Instead, Cifford chose to release DiBiase to the custody of his parents on several conditions. According to email documentation provided by Carnes, DiBiase must wear a GPS monitor at all times and stay confined to his home with the following exceptions: counseling, medical appointments, court appearances, meeting with his attorney and going to work at his uncle’s warehouse in Burlington, Mass.
Additionally, DiBiase is now subject to random drug testing and must remain alcohol and drug-free, Carnes wrote in an email to College officials.
DiBiase will also meet in person with his probation officer every week and attend weekly therapy sessions and monthly psychiatric visits. The DiBiase family must also remove any rearms that might be in their home, according to email documentation provided by Carnes.
If DiBiase violates any of the conditions set by Clifford, he will serve 90 days in a correctional facility without bail, Carnes said in an email to Stonehill College officials. DiBiase is tentatively scheduled to appear at Fall River Superior Court Thursday, Nov. 19, for a grand jury hearing.
At this hearing, the jury will make a nding of either true bill or no bill. A finding of true bill indicates the jury found the evidence presented to justify a trial. A finding of no bill indicates the criminal charges against a suspect are not justified by the evidence provided.
“From there, the case, if it’s true bill, will be dismissed in District Court, and tried in Superior Court. That’s just a logical step,” Carnes said. “It’s a little complicated, but basically, that’s because District Court does not have jurisdiction on the charges. Superior Court will have jurisdiction. The short answer to that is District Court jurisdiction is for lesser terms of jail. His charges dictate a longer term if he is convicted,” Carnes said.
At an arraignment hearing Oct. 15, DiBiase plead not guilty to charges of possession of a hoax device, defacing school property and making a false bomb threat.
Campus Police first learned of the threat the night of Sept. 24 after a custodian found a box labelled “BOMB” and a threatening note in an Old Student Union Bathroom.
Campus Police informed the community about the situation Sept. 25 at approximately 1:15 a.m. School officials worked overnight with outside law enforcement, including Massachusetts State Police, to determine whether or not the threat was credible.
Upon reviewing the state of the investigation early Sept. 25, administrators decided to cancel all school activities for the rest of the day.
Students and faculty received a cancellation notification via email at approximately 11:30 a.m. Employees were allowed to go home and students were given the option to leave campus or remain in residence halls until the threat had been neutralized.
Throughout the rest of the day, officers searched every building on campus. School officials sent a notice to the community via email at approximately 5 p.m. indicating the college would re-open.
The investigation into the threat continued for several weeks.
The main break in the bomb threat case came Oct. 13 when Sgt. David Wordell saw a swastika drawn in green ink in the men’s restroom on the first floor of the Old Student Union, according to a Stonehill College police report filed in Taunton District Court.
Upon discovery of the drawing, Wordell immediately alerted Carnes and Bamford. He also contacted Massachusetts State Police to respond to the scene, the report said. Wordell requested that Crime Scene Services come to campus to process evidence in the case.
As part of the investigation into the graffiti, Bamford reviewed surveillance footage to determine who was responsible. Following the discovery of the threat Sept. 24, College officials arranged for the company SIEMENS to install three cameras in the area. In total, the College has 50 cameras across campus.
According to the police report, Bamford determined from the footage that a male wearing a white Stonehill College sweatshirt and orange or pink shorts stopped at the area where the swastika was drawn Oct. 9 at approximately 1:51 p.m. He remained there for several seconds and was holding a writing instrument.
Upon review, investigators determined the suspect entered classroom 108 in the Old Student Union after leaving the bathroom, as he could not be seen exiting the building, the report said.
Following the discovery of this footage, Campus Police Lt. Cathy Farrington obtained a class list for the course in session in classroom 108 at the time of the incident. Authorities discovered the suspect bore a resemblance to DiBiase, according to a police report led in Taunton District Court.
Bamford said in a report that DiBiase was asked Oct. 13 to come to a conference room in the Old Student Union at approximately 2:20 p.m. Massachusetts State Trooper Chad Laliberte proceeded to interview DiBiase after he arrived.
During the interview, DiBiase admitted to drawing the swastika Oct. 9 and making the bomb threat Sept. 24, according to the report filed in court. He said he made the threat to get out of an exam that was scheduled to take place Sept. 25, the court paperwork noted.
Massachusetts State Police took DiBiase into custody following this admission, according to the police report.
Taunton District Court Judge Paul J. McCalum originally ordered DiBiase held without bail at his arraignment Thursday, Oct. 15. DiBiase was charged with possession of a hoax incendiary device, defacing property and making a bomb threat with serious public alarm, according to the police report. He plead not guilty to all charges.
On Oct. 20, Judge Clifford had ordered DiBiase to under-go a 20-day psychiatric evaluation at Bridgewater State Hospital at his dangerousness hearing, which had been continued until Nov. 9.