STAMFORD, Conn. -- A 53-year-old man pleaded guilty Thursday to federal interstate stalking after placing a bomb containing hydrochloric acid in his ex-girlfriend's car in Stamford in 2010, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut said.
“First, this defendant abused, threatened and stalked his victim, a woman who had attempted to end her relationship with the defendant,” said U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly. “The defendant then planted acid-filled bottle bombs in the victim’s car and came dangerously close to permanently disfiguring her. Under the federal Violence Against Women Act, the Department of Justice is empowered with tools to prosecute domestic violence and stalking crimes. We commend the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces in Connecticut and Florida, and all of our partner investigative agencies who investigated this heinous crime in an effort to secure justice and provide safety for the victim.”
According to a statement from Daly, the case began in 2008 when Frank Mendoza was in a relationship with the victim when the two lived in Jacksonville, Fla. The victim tried to end the relationship after learning about Mendoza's criminal history and alleged gang affiliations. He also became abusive, the U.S. attorney said.
In September 2010, the victim told Mendoza that she was moving to Rhode Island for a work-related training program. The victim instead moved to Stamford.
In October 2010, Mendoza learned that the victim had moved to Connecticut and began to place numerous harassing and threatening phone calls to her, her friends and her work colleagues.
In early November 2010, Mendoza traveled to Connecticut, visited the victim’s residence and place of work, and then returned to Florida. On Dec. 8, 2010, Mendoza flew from Florida to New York City, rented a car, drove to the victim’s Stamford residence, and placed two, two-liter bottles in her car. The bottles contained hydrochloric acid and an aluminum foil wick.
At 11 p.m. Dec. 8, 2010, the victim approached her car and observed that the car’s interior was damp. She also observed a bottle on the driver’s side floor. When she picked the bottle up, it began to smoke and fizz. She then gently placed the bottle down and ran from the car. The bottle then exploded.
“Civilized societies must have zero tolerance for criminals like Mendoza who terrorize not only their victims but the communities in which they reside,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Patricia M. Ferrick. “The thorough multi-agency investigation into Mendoza’s crimes is indicative of exceptional cooperation among investigators focused on protecting the victim from future harm and seeing to it that justice prevails.”
Mendoza has been detained since his arrest Aug. 17, 2012. He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years and a fine of $250,000 when sentenced Wednesday, Sept. 3.