Ships docked at Naval Base San Diego. Photo courtesy EPA
Ships docked at Naval Base San Diego. Photo courtesy EPA

Two men who have worked as Navy contractors face potential prison time and fines for allegedly making bogus bomb threats that resulted in mass evacuations of naval ships moored on San Diego Bay in recent months.

Joshua Rice, 26, and Roberto Rubio, 22, were arrested and arraigned in federal court Wednesday. The two San Diego residents each face up to five years behind bars and a $250,000 fine if convicted of issuing hoax threats.

Rice is charged in a grand jury indictment with reporting to Navy security personnel that he saw the word “bomb” scrawled inside of a portable toilet near three vessels docked at Naval Base San Diego on the morning of May 17, knowing there was no true threat.

At the time, Rice was working for American Marine, a ship repair and rehabilitation company.

Rubio is charged separately with writing “9-24-16 400 bomb” on an interior wall aboard the USS Cowpens, a guided-missile cruiser, on Sept. 24 and reporting the phony threat to another contractor. Rubio was then employed as a welder for Navy contractor BAE Systems.

For each threat, there was a standard security response that included clearing the area and stopping all work, creating a significant negative impact on all affected personnel and Navy readiness, according to military officials.

“Everyone should know that making false bomb threats is taken very seriously by federal law enforcement, and it is a felony offense,” U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said. “This is not a legal or smart way of getting out of work.”

Rubio’s and Rice’s next court appearances — motions and trial-setting sessions — are scheduled for Jan. 9 and Jan. 30, respectively.

— City News Service

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.