Daniel Sheehan arrested in alleged Home Depot bomb extortion plot on Long Island

The Home Depot in Huntington, NY.
CBS New York
The Home Depot in Huntington, N.Y.
CBS New York

(CBS/AP) CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. - An employee planted a working pipe bomb in the lighting department of a Long Island Home Depot as part of a plot to extort $2 million from the company, a federal prosecutor said Thursday.

Daniel Sheehan, 50, of Deer Park, N.Y., was arrested Wednesday and charged with attempted extortion and the use of a destructive device.

CBS New York reports that according to a criminal complaint, an anonymous letter was sent to a Home Depot store in Huntington telling the store manager that a bomb had been hidden in the store's lighting department.

The letter demanded $2 million or the sender would "Shut down all [Home Depot's] LI stores on Black Friday," the complaint said.

It also claimed that the sender was ready to "detonate 3 devices in 3 different stores remotely via trac fone," the complaint said.

Police were called and the store, which had about 50 people inside at the time, was evacuated, the station reports.

Once everyone was out, authorities searched the store and eventually found the device in the lighting department, prosecutors said.

It was removed and then detonated in a safe area. The FBI later determined that it was in fact a "functioning pipe bomb" and that whoever built it had some expertise in building explosive devices, the complaint said.

Sheehan then used an anonymous number to call the Home Depot and demanded $2 million, prosecutors said.

A few days later however, the store received a second letter demanding a lower amount of $1 million be paid on Oct. 26, prosecutors said.

That letter said the sender would show up at the money drop off site "wired up like a Christmas tree" with "2 devices strapped to a belt and 1 to a neck chain that I will be wearing, wired together and attached to a 'deadman' switch in my hand," according to the complaint.

Then on Oct. 26, Home Depot got a call from a man who said "...this is the guy with the letters ... you have a lot of show of force there today, dozens of cops everywhere ... I'm very angry right now, I'll send you a letter, we'll do this again," the complaint states.

Investigators said they were eventually able to track the calls to Sheehan who was then arrested.

According to the complaint, Sheehan "admitted that he had attempted to extort money from the Home Depot" as well as "admitted to building and placing the pipe bomb in the Home Depot."

Prosecutors said he also admitted to sending the ransom letters and placing the calls to the store.

Sheehan was to be arraigned later Thursday at the federal courthouse in Central Islip. U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch's office said he didn't yet have a lawyer.

If convicted, he would face a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years in prison.