The man known as “The Bishop” was convicted of sending pipe bombs and threatening letters through the mail on Friday.
The jury took about two hours to reach a guilty verdict on all 13 counts against John P. Tomkins, 47, of Dubuque, Iowa.
Tomkins sat arms folded, looking down as the verdict was read. He mouthed something inaudible to himself once the jury left the room.
Later in court, Tomkins glanced back at his wife, Julie, only briefly before heading back to the holding area. She has attended the trial every day.
The two have been married for 25 years and have three daughters.
U.S. District Judge Robert Down tentatively set Tomkins’ sentencing for Aug. 6. Tomkins, who acted as his own lawyer, faces a 30-year-minimum prison term.
Tom Brady, the head of Chicago’s Postal Inspector’s Office, said law enforcement saw Tomkins’ actions as a “reign of terror.”
“His activity was getting increasingly agitated,” Brady said after the verdict. “I believe he was going to carry through what he was doing so far. I think we were able to get to him before he was able to escalate his behavior.”
A self-described “gearhead,” Tomkins, said he knew exactly how to make a bomb so that it would explode.
He purposely designed them so they wouldn’t, he said.
While acting as his own attorney, Tomkins, who has been in custody since his April, 2007 arrest, at times awkwardly had to refer to himself in the third person. Tomkins called himself to the witness stand on Thursday and later gave his own closing remarks.
His defense case involved admitting to the allegations against him except one — which calls for the 30-year-minimum sentence. That one charges that he sent destructive devices in the mail with the intent to harm. Tomkins said the devices were not destructive.
Starting in 2005, Tomkins sent a series of threatening letters and eventually, two inert pipe bombs — one in Chicago — to investment firms, telling the recipients to change stock prices or they or their family would be killed, or their children kidnapped. Witnesses testified to being horrified after receiving the packages or letters.
“Certainly, this whole criminal episode has been horrific,” Tomkins told a seemingly captivated jury. “The defendant readily admits to what he did — he will not admit to what he did not do.”
Tomkins seemed to hold up under cross examination and started off strong in his closing argument but then seemed to hit a wall, taking a long pause as he fumbled to come up with the right way to make his argument.
“The law is a funny thing people, it really is,” he said, staring down at his notebook as the courtroom grew silent, all eyes on him.
During the day, Tomkins referred to himself as 46 even though he turned 47 on Jan. 1.
He also misstated the age of one of his daughters at one point.
“I never heard the defendant say he was a good person,” Tomkins said.
“Please don’t hold my shortcomings against the defendant,” Tomkins said of his work as a lawyer. “He screwed up. He admits it. You don’t have to like him. You have to enforce the law.”
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patrick Pope and Paul Tzur told a different story.