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Zajac Sentenced to 35 Years in Federal Prison in Connection with Explosion at Salt Lake Library

U.S. Attorney’s Office April 14, 2011
  • District of Utah (801) 524-5682

SALT LAKE CITY—Thomas James Zajac, age 57, of Downers Grove, Ill., who was convicted of six violations of federal law stemming from a bombing at the Salt Lake City Public Library on Sept. 15, 2006, will spend 35 years in federal prison.

U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups imposed the sentence Thursday morning in Salt Lake City. The judge also ordered Zajac to serve 60 months of supervised release when he completes his prison sentence and to pay $6,128 in restitution to the library.

Following a two-week trial in October, a jury convicted Zajac of attempting to damage and destroy a building by use of an explosive device; using or carrying a destructive device in relation to a crime of violence; possessing an unregistered destructive device; possessing a destructive device following a felony conviction and a domestic violence conviction; and using the mail to threaten the use of explosives.

Zajac was arrested in October 2006 following an investigation by the ATF, the FBI, and the Salt Lake City Police Department.

Federal prosecutors asked Judge Waddoups during Thursday's hearing to impose a sentence that would keep Zajac in prison for a substantial period of time. Two of the counts of conviction, attempting to damage and destroy a building with an explosive device and using or carrying a destructive device during a crime of violence, carry mandatory minimum sentences that run consecutive to each other. These two counts were used to reach the 35- year sentence imposed by Judge Waddoups.

"When the defendant placed a bomb at the Salt Lake Public Library in 2006 and walked away, he terrorized the community," Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Benson said. "Luckily, the bomb didn't kill anyone in the crowded building that day, but it could have. There is hardly an act more deliberately dangerous than placing a deadly incendiary device in a crowded city area. It creates panic, chaos, and fear. It is the definition of terrorism," Benson said.

Prosecutors said Zajac's conduct is even more egregious because he followed up his crimes with letters boasting about his conduct and threatening that the next bomb would be larger, designed to kill, and placed in a crowded public place.

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