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Man faces federal charges after authorities say he placed fireworks disguised as a bomb at Harvard University

<i>US District Court of Massachusetts</i><br/>Surveillance footage from Home Depot shows William Giordani purchasing wires and other items that were used to fashion a fake bomb
US District Court of Massachusetts
Surveillance footage from Home Depot shows William Giordani purchasing wires and other items that were used to fashion a fake bomb

By Michelle Watson, CNN

A man has been charged with aiding and abetting extortion threats and conspiracy after he placed fireworks disguised as a bomb on the campus of Harvard University, according to a federal criminal complaint.

William Giordani told authorities he had responded to an April 11 Craigslist ad from the parent of a Harvard student asking for help delivering some items to his eldest son, the complaint said. The gig offered to pay $300, according to the complaint.

Days later, on April 13, Harvard University police received a call from a Google Voice number with a “computer-generated male voice” threatening to detonate three bombs that had been placed on the campus if the university did not pay an unspecified Bitcoin amount, the complaint said.

“There are bombs on campus and we are ready to provide proof. Do not hang up,” the caller said. “This is not a joke, a prank, or a drill. There are real lives at stake today.”

The caller continued: “Non-compliance with our orders will result in immediate detonation of all three devices and the death or injury of hundreds of students. We will know if you try to issue any messages to students or faculty via text or email.”

It is unclear if the person who listed the Craigslist ad and Giordani are the same person.

Giordani will have a detention hearing on Friday, when an attorney will be appointed to him if necessary, the court told CNN in an email Wednesday.

The April 13 caller to Harvard police “gave a location and a description of one of the devices,” said the complaint, adding that “one of the devices was on the Science Center Plaza between two food trucks in a red and black Husky tool bag.”

Officers with the Cambridge Police Department bomb disposal unit responded and “executed a controlled destruction using a robotic device,” the complaint said. The Husky tool bag had a metal locking safe, “a package of wire and a quantity of fireworks inside the safe, and a small rectangular box with wires attached to it,” according to the complaint.

Authorities later saw a man believed to be Giordani on a livestream video placing the Husky tool bag in the plaza, the complaint said. Inside the tool bag, investigators found a bar code order number and traced it back to a Boston-area Home Depot, according to the complaint. Security footage from that Home Depot showed Giordani leaving with a Husky tool bag, wire and the safe box.

Giordani later told investigators that “all he did” was respond to a Craigslist ad and place the fireworks — bottle rockets and roman candles — and a cable in a safe, which he put in a bag, and then left he bag at a square, the complaint said. He “admitted that he knew what he did was wrong and that he ‘just put some fireworks in a safe and put them at Harvard,'” according to the complaint.

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CNN’s Claudia Domingez contributed to this report.

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