18 Dec Videographer acquitted in federal bomb threat trial
Daily Business Review, December 19, 2011
A jury took two hours to acquit a commercial videographer accused of threatening to blow up a downtown Miami office tower. Bill Rolland was charged with conveying a false threat to a public building based on the word of three employees at the New World Tower at 100 N. Biscayne Blvd., which houses the Israeli and German consulates. Rolland, who lives near Sacramento, California, was in Miami to shoot video for a client, Cisco Systems, when confronted by a building engineer and two security guards. All three testified Rolland threatened to blow up the building, but their testimony fell apart on the stand, defense attorney Robert Stickney said. Police barricaded downtown Miami when one of the guards reported a bomb threat to police.
Stickney maintained the call was made because Rolland refused to stop shooting his video, knowing he was within his rights to do so from a public sidewalk. The attorney said federal prosecutors should never have taken the case to trial, which was heard by U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams. “I think they are hypersensitive about domestic terrorism issues,” Stickney said. “But this had nothing to do with domestic terrorism. It has to do with human nature.”
The U.S. attorney’s office had no comment on the acquittal, spokeswoman Alicia Valle said. Stickney said it’s a sad day in America when a law-abiding citizen with no criminal record has the full weight of the federal government out to prosecute him. “He was scared to death. This destroyed his life,” Stickney said. Rolland’s wife, Lisa, sobbed with relief after the jury verdict was read.
John Pacenti can be reached at tel:(305) 347-6638