New Middletown man sentenced in Jewish Community Center threat case

Local News

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WKBN) – After two years in jail, a New Middletown man was sentenced for a 2019 threat against the Youngstown Jewish Community Center.

James Reardon, 22, was sentenced Wednesday in Cleveland Federal Court to 41 months prison.

The judge said the term should send a message that this behavior cannot and will not be tolerated and that safety of our communities is paramount.

He pleaded guilty in May to charges of transmitting a threatening communication and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.

Reardon’s lawyer says his client is “extremely remorseful,” adding he’s not an extremist, even though he’s admitted to making the threats.

Reardon and Attorney Ross Smith took part in the sentencing hearing Wednesday morning from inside the Mahoning County Jail where he’s been held the last two years since his arrest. Smith said the defendant didn’t realize at the time he posted an on-line video what others would think about it.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Dave Toepfer told the judge “anti-Semitism is the oldest form of racism” and that threats aimed at the Jewish Community were taken incredibly seriously, especially after a raid of Reardon’s home in New Middletown uncovered weapons, ammunition and body armor.

As part of his sentencing. Reardon has to get mental health treatment.

Judge Patricia Gaughan said that Reardon’s actions were “extraordinarily serious in nature” for portraying himself as a “mass shooter.”

“You caused real and legitimate fear…words do matter,” Judge Gaughan said.

Gaughan said she hopes the sentencing will send a message to others that “this behavior will not be tolerated…safety of our communities is paramount.”

Reardon has been in the Mahoning County Jail since an Aug. 17, 2019 search of his home prompted by an online threat against the Jewish Community Center on Gypsy Lane.

The warrant was served after authorities learned about a video he posted online in July 2019, in which they say he threatened the Jewish Community Center of Youngstown.

The video has screams and sirens as background noise and shows Reardon holding a gun, investigators say. They say the caption identifies the man holding the gun as “local white nationalist Seamus O’Rearedon.”

Because Wednesday is a religious holiday, no one from the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation could comment on camera about Reardon’s sentencing; however, they did issue the following statement:

We are thankful this is a case where everything went right. While Mr. Reardon was successful in terrorizing our community, we are extremely fortunate that the legal consequences of his actions took place before an actual act of violence from which there could have been no recovery.

However, the threats posed to the Jewish Community Center of Youngstown were traumatic to not only staff, members, and guests, but to the entire Jewish community. The JCC is the most visible and most visited agency of the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation, and serves as the hub of the Valley’s Jewish life as well as the corporate offices of the Federation.

Words, particularly hateful words, matter, and Mr. Reardon’s shattered our communal security. With this sentence, we are hopeful our community can begin to heal.

We are also hopeful that he now understands why the spread of threatening messages of hate is so dangerous and could lead to deadly outcomes. Upon his release, we encourage him to become a productive member of society.

The outpouring of support throughout this ordeal from the community, locally, statewide, and nationally, is greatly appreciated. We are grateful to the local FBI and law enforcement for their swift and strong response to this matter and for their continued willingness to keep the lines of communication open at all times. We are also grateful the legal process worked as it should.

Youngstown Area Jewish Federation

To that end, the judge issued a stern warning to Reardon before finishing that if he violated terms of his release, he’d go back to prison.

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