For Immediate Release
Federal Jury Finds Man Who Planned Attack on Jacksonville Mosque Guilty of Illegal Possession of Unregistered Firearm Silencer
Jacksonville, Florida – A federal jury has found Bernandino G. Bolatete (69, Jacksonville) guilty of possessing an unregistered firearm silencer. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. His sentencing hearing has been set for July 25, 2018. Bolatete was indicted on December 7, 2017.
According to evidence presented at trial, Bolatete came to the attention of law enforcement when a confidential source reported to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) that Bolatete had a plan to conduct a mass shooting at a local mosque if he learned, as he expected to, that his remaining kidney failed and he would have to undergo dialysis. In response, JSO launched an investigation that included introducing Bolatete to an undercover detective (UC), with whom Bolatete shared his plan to attack the mosque. The investigation revealed that Bolatete had a collection of firearms and was nearly always armed. Bolatete also suggested to the UC that he had visited the mosque in the past. He also shared which of his firearms he would use for the attack and repeatedly bragged about having shot someone with a silencer-equipped firearm. Bolatete advised the UC on the best ways to put a hit on an adversary.
When the UC told Bolatete that he had a source with access to silencers, Bolatete asked to buy one and insisted that it not be registered with the government (registration is required by federal law). Bolatete also sent a text message to the UC suggesting that he could use the silencer to take out the UC’s adversary.
Bolatete was arrested on December 1, 2017, after the UC sold him an unregistered silencer for $100. After his arrest, Bolatete admitted that he had possessed the unregistered silencer but claimed that he had purchased it for hunting. When FBI agents searched his home and car, they found a significant collection of firearms and ammunition, including the specific firearms that Bolatete had told the UC that he would use to conduct the mass shooting at the mosque.
This case was investigated by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, the FBI, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Laura Cofer Taylor and Michael J. Coolican.