U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
District of Utah
District of Utah
For Immediate Release
April 14, 2011
Carlie Christensen, United States Attorney
Contact: Melodie Rydalch
Zajac Sentenced to 35 years in Federal Prison in Connection with Explosion at Salt Lake Library
SALT LAKE CITY – Thomas James Zajac, age 57, of Downers Grove, Ill., 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 of life, the statutory maximum sentence for the crimes for which he was convicted.
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.