In a bold strike against threats to reproductive health centers, Nishith Tharaka Vandebona, a Ventura County resident, was handed an 18-month federal prison term for his chilling phone calls, including one to a Planned Parenthood office on the same day the landmark Roe v. Wade decision was quashed, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.
U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner didn't mince words when he condemned the "egregious" acts of Vandebona, who hailing from Oxnard but committed his crimes in Camarillo, had been in custody since June after his guilty plea to one count of threatened forcible intimidation and one felony of transmitting threats across state lines, pleading guilty to the misdemeanor charge under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act; all this unfolded as the Supreme Court dropped a seismic ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, upending Roe and declaring the Constitution grants no abortion rights.
"Seeking to intimidate others through death threats is unacceptable," said U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada, in a statement underscoring the gravity, said, "Today’s sentence shows that there will be consequences for those who threaten violence against workers at reproductive health facilities in violation of federal law," as mentioned by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.
Donald Alway, FBI's Los Angeles office Assistant Director in Charge, didn't hesitate to emphasize how "Mr. Vandebona crossed the line from protected speech to criminal activity when he terrorized his ideological adversaries with death threats." The investigation came to involve the Santa Barbara Police Department, the Santa Monica Police Department, and the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office all joining forces.
Two harrowing calls in February and June of 2022 exemplified Vandebona's terror tactics, using an anonymous internet service to cloak his identity while issuing threats like a visual from a horror flick; one call menacingly promised a Planned Parenthood call center specialist, "I’m going to come in there and kill all of you, including your staff and your security," as reported by officials.
Before he targeted Planned Parenthood, Vandebona vented his vitriol on Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS), a Ventura-based nonprofit pushing for zero population growth via immigration curbs. His threats painted a grim "I’m gonna come in there, plant a bomb, and kill as many white Americans as possible" scenario, raising enough alarm to warrant a comprehensive FBI probe into the matter.
With the FACE Act in the spotlight, the Justice Department remains vigilant against violence, threats, obstruction, or damage aimed at reproductive healthcare providers and patients, inviting anyone with information on such crimes to report to the FBI website, as part of their ongoing enforcement efforts.