Home>Judiciary>New Jersey man who ran for Congress in Hawaii, Oregon pleads guilty to threatening judges, others

Eric Hafner. (Photo: Pamplin Media Group.)

New Jersey man who ran for Congress in Hawaii, Oregon pleads guilty to threatening judges, others

Eric Hafner will be sentenced on September 21

By David Wildstein, May 17 2022 8:04 pm

Eric Hafner, a Toms River medical marijuana advocate who lost a Republican primary for Congress in Hawaii in 2016 and a Democratic primary for Congress in Oregon in 2018,  admitted to threatening judges, New Jersey state officials, law enforcement officers, a police department and two law firms between July 2016 and May 2018.

He also acknowledged making false bomb threats to an elected officials office, the Monmouth County courthouse, a police department and two law firms.

A criminal trial in U.S. District Court was scheduled to begin today.

According to U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger, the 31-year-old Hafner sought to extort $350,000 from some of his victims.  He was living outside the U.S. during the time.

Hafner started making threats in July 2016, the day after he flew from Hawaii to Tokyo, court records say.  He told a police department in Monmouth County – prosecutors have not disclosed which one —  that a police officer who arrested him nine years earlier, when he was a juvenile, “deserved to get shot,” according to court records.

Sellinger’s predecessor, Craig Carpenito, said in 2019 that Hafner “embarked on a campaign of terror directed at judges, elected officials, and members of law enforcement in Monmouth County and elsewhere.”

“He threatened to detonate bombs and kill and otherwise harm his victims, all in an effort to cause psychological harm to and extort hundreds of thousands of dollars from them,” Carpenito said following Hafner’s indictment.

Hafner won 44% of the vote in the Hawaii primary in a race to take on Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, and then 1% in a Democratic primary challenge against Rep. Earl Blumenauer in Oregon two years later.

He had never been in Oregon, he told a local newspaper during the campaign.

Hafner faces a  maximum 55 years in prison, although his plea agreement typically reduces that time.

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Shipp will sentence Hafner on September 21.

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