Former Security Guard Pleads Guilty to Bomb Threat At Athens-Clarke County Democratic Party Office

(Photo by Nathan O’Neal)

A former security guard, Jessica Diane Higginbotham, working at the Athens-Clarke County Democratic Party coordinated campaign office pleaded guilty to threatening to bomb their local headquarters while the U.S. Senators from Georgia were in town for campaign events.

Higginbotham aka Jessica Harriod aka Jessica Jones, 35, of Elberton, Georgia, pleaded guilty to one count of communicating a bomb. Higginbotham faces a maximum sentence of ten years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 7.

According to court documents, on Dec. 3, 2022, at 6:01 p.m., an employee of the DSCC in Athens received a text message: “Hello, I am writing this message to you to let you know that I am coming by either tonight or in the morning to set a bomb up. So I can blow all the Democrats up. I have other people going to other offices also. If I can’t stop you by breaking in and destroying the property then I will blow every one up. So be ready to be blown up. This is going to either happen tonight or in the morning. Hope you like being on the wrong team.”

The FBI began investigating the threat immediately, and officers with the Athens-Clarke County Police Department (ACCPD) responded to the area of the threat. The U.S. Senate runoff election was scheduled to take place on Dec. 6, and elected officials were in Athens participating in campaign events, including both U.S. Senators from Georgia on Dec. 4. Using a series of emergency disclosure requests (EDRs), FBI agents discovered the cell phone belonged to the defendant, who was also working as a contract security officer for a firm employed by the local Democratic coordinated campaign. The U.S. Capitol Police were also investigating the bomb threat, and independently determined that the bomb threat was sent from Higginbotham’s cell phone.

On Dec. 4, FBI task force officers located Higginbotham at a coffee shop in Athens with the cell phone in her hands. When she saw the agents approach her, she vomited. At first, she denied sending the bomb threat. A federal search warrant was executed on her cell phone, which linked the email account used in the bomb threat to her. While investigating the bomb threat, agents learned that there had been a break-in at the local Democratic campaign building in Athens on Nov. 27, and a laptop belonging to the campaign was stolen. At the time of the burglary, investigators noted that it appeared to be staged as tables were turned over, but the building was locked with no evidence of a forced entry. Investigators later recovered the stolen laptop with Higginbotham’s personal items. Higginbotham now admits that she used a cell phone to willfully threaten to kill or injure people and unlawfully destroy a building with an explosive.