An Iowa letter carrier who nicknamed himself “The Bishop” was sentenced to 37 years in prison for sending dud pipe bombs in an odd and potentially deadly incident.
“The Bishop,” or John Tomkins, 48, showed little emotion during the sentencing hearing on Tuesday. He later smiled as his attorney patted his shoulder, before being led away by marshals.
Federal Judge Robert Dow in Chicago imposed the 37 year sentence after praising Tomkins for taking some responsibility for the potentially deadly attacks.
However, Dow added that “The Bishop,” a father of three, also “engaged in a reign of terror” in his mailings of dud pipe bombs to investment firms and advisers. The judge added:
” ‘Horrific’ is the single best word I’ve heard to describe this crime. ‘Terrifying’ is another good word.”
Tomkins signed his letters “The Bishop” after a novel where a criminal leaves a chess piece as his calling card for the crime. The 48-year-old’s letters read, “BANG! YOU’RE DEAD!” It added that the only reason the person receiving the package wasn’t dead was because one wire wasn’t attached.
Dow added that “The Bishop” took risks that “nobody in their right mind” would take with the public’s safety, despite the fact that he seemed so normal.
The sentence comes after Tomkins gave a long and emotional speech in court last month, saying that he is “incredibly sorry” for the crimes he committed. He attributed them to a mental breakdown brought on by his nephew’s suicide, as well as the murder of a friend.
Prosecutors asked for a sentence of 42 to 45 years, but the judge settled on 37. If he behaves in prison and gets credit for time already served, Tomkins will be eligible for parole when he is in his 70s. ‘The Bishop” faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years. Tomkins has already been in jail for six years.
[Image via ShutterStock]