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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Northern District of Illinois
Morris Pasqual, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Friday, February 9, 2024

Federal Judge Sentences Man to 20 Years in Prison for Detonating Pipe Bomb at Suburban Chicago Train Station

CHICAGO — A federal judge today sentenced a man to 20 years in prison for detonating a pipe bomb at a suburban Chicago train station.

On Sept. 1, 2006, Thomas James Zajac placed a pipe bomb in a trash can at the BNSF Railway station in Hinsdale. The device exploded during the morning commute, injuring a station agent.

U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly imposed the sentence during a hearing in federal court in Chicago. Judge Kennelly ordered that the sentence must be served after the completion of a federal sentence that Zajac is currently serving for bombing a public library in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2006.

Today’s sentence was announced by Morris Pasqual, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Christopher Amon, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Valuable assistance was provided by the Hinsdale Police Department, DuPage County, Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the BNSF Police Department. The government was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys G. David Rojas, Brian Kerwin, and Andréa L. Campbell.

Evidence at Zajac’s federal trial in Chicago last year revealed that Zajac felt disrespected when a family member was arrested by Hinsdale Police in the year before the bombing. About a month after the bombing, Zajac sent an anonymous letter to the Hinsdale Police Department, stating that the police had “[expletive] with” the wrong person and that the writer had “fired a warning shot” last month. The letter indicated that police actions would “likely eventually lead to the death” of at least one person in Hinsdale, and that the writer wanted to see whether the department was “bright enough or possess[ed] the character to stop this death.”

Zajac, 70, formerly of Oakbrook Terrace, was convicted on all three counts against him, including one count of attempting to damage property with an explosive, one count of possessing an unregistered destructive device, and one count of willfully making a threat through the mail to kill or injure a person with an explosive.


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