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Ex-Northeastern University Employee Convicted For Staging Hoax Explosion

James King, MPA
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A former lab manager at Northeastern University, Jason Duhaime, has been found guilty of orchestrating a fake explosion on the Boston campus and subsequently misleading federal agents about the incident. The 46-year-old from San Antonio, Texas, was convicted on three counts by a federal jury and faces up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for each offense.

Duhaime, who served as the university’s new technology manager and director of the Immersive Media Lab, reported the incident in September 2022. He claimed that one of the packages he had collected exploded, causing sharp objects to fly out and injure his arms. This prompted a major response from law enforcement, including an evacuation and the involvement of a bomb squad, which caused panic on campus.

However, the FBI’s investigation quickly revealed inconsistencies in Duhaime’s story. According to FBI Boston Special Agent in Charge Joseph Bonavolonta, Duhaime lied about the explosion, faked his injuries, and fabricated a threatening letter supposedly found inside the package. The letter accused the lab of working with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and the U.S. government to make people live in a virtual reality world, threatening further violence if operations were not ceased.


The FBI found the letter on Duhaime’s computer, written just hours before his 911 call. Despite claiming to have sustained injuries, Duhaime’s shirt sleeves were undamaged, casting further doubt on his account. Acting U.S. Attorney Joshua Levy emphasized the severe impact of such hoaxes, noting that they instill fear, divert law enforcement resources, and incur significant financial costs.

Duhaime’s attorneys withdrew from the case in January, and his public defender could not be reached for comment. Northeastern University, a private institution with over 40,000 students, was significantly affected by the hoax. Duhaime is scheduled to be sentenced on October 2.

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