LIMA — Lima Schools Superintendent Jill Ackerman said Thursday the four-year sentence a teenager received in adult prison for calling in a false bomb threat should serve as a strong deterrent.
“This is a statement that this community, as a whole, is serious about these acts being committed,” Ackerman said. “We as a school community will take them very seriously and we will push for prosecution to the fullest extent possible.”
Ackerman was at the sentencing hearing for 17-year-old Paul Miner Jr. She also heard him apologize and his attorney pleaded for leniency.
Judge Richard Warren of Allen County Common Pleas Court said he had no other choice but to sentence Miner to prison to serve as a deterrent to others.
“If this court doesn’t do something, what deterrent is it for the next person who is thinking about doing the same thing?” he said.
Ackerman said she hopes Miner will be rehabilitated in prison and comes out with a fresh start. He apologized to everyone he harmed by calling in a bomb threat to Lima Senior High School on March 6, which caused the evacuation of the school and interrupted Election Day activities at polling stations inside. More than 2,000 students were sent home for the day.
“I apologize to the kids and the parents for wasting their time. I made a stupid suggestion and I messed up. That’s all I can say,” he said.
Warren told Miner he still was a child who had a lot of learning to do.
“Mr. Miner this is not a prank. We live in a different world today with bomb threats and airplanes and schools,” Warren said.
Miner’s attorney, Mike Dugan, said sending Miner to prison would harm him and possibly make him worse coming out.
“Let’s be realistic about what happened here. He made a stupid call and called in a threat. He didn’t kill anybody or hurt anybody,” Dugan said. “Let’s not throw him away.”
The judge read off Miner’s record, which as a juvenile includes numerous arrests for disturbances in schools, thefts, escape and burglary.
Warren ordered $1,805 restitution to a company that provided an ankle tracking bracelet that Miner cut off. The judge did not order the payment of $4,340 it cost emergency responders to handle the bomb threat. Ackerman said she thought that was appropriate because Miner likely does not have any way of paying it.
Lima schools experienced a series of bomb threats in the spring. Another person, Amanda Hunt, is awaiting sentencing for making three false bomb threats.