Hardin County bail bondsman Jonathan White, who was arrested on Aug. 24 for allegedly delivering a pipe bomb to undercover agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, has been indicted on federal charges regarding the incident.
U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant announced the indictment Wednesday. He said a federal grand jury returned a five-count indictment against Jonathan Edward White, 40, for manufacture, possession, and transfer of an explosive device in violation of the National Firearms Act.
Just weeks before his arrest for the incident, White, owner of Betterway Bail Bonding Company of Savannah, made an unsuccessful bid for Hardin County mayor in the Aug. 2 election.
According to the U.S. Justice Department, TBI agents on Aug. 24 began investigating a series of threats posted on social media by White. During the course of the investigation, agents determined that White may have been in possession of an explosive device.
That same evening, White met with agents working in an undercover capacity and provided them with a pipe bomb.
Special Operations personnel from the Tennessee Highway Patrol responded and rendered the explosive device safe.
White was arrested without incident and charged with one count of possession of a prohibited weapon under state law, and booked into the Hardin County Jail on a $500,000 bond.
In the resulting federal investigation, Dunavant said, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms examined the device and determined it to be an explosive bomb, which qualifies as a prohibited destructive device.
The five count federal indictment charges White knowingly and unlawfully made and possessed a pipe bomb; knowingly and unlawfully possessed a pipe bomb without registering it with the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record; knowingly and unlawfully possessed a pipe bomb not identified as required with a serial number; and knowingly and unlawfully transferred a pipe bomb.
Dunavant said if White is convicted, he faces up to 10 years imprisonment, three years supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.
“This office, along with our law enforcement partners, takes all bomb threats seriously, and we are vigilant to protect and prevent property damage, bodily injury, and death from any explosive device in West Tennessee,” Dunavant said. “We commend the quick, thorough, and coordinated response of all of the federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies involved in this investigation.”
He added that the case was investigated by the Hardin County Sheriff’s Office; Savannah Police Department; Tennessee Bureau of Investigation; Tennessee Highway Patrol; Tennessee Department of Public Safety and Homeland Security; and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Tennessee.
In a Courier story on Aug. 30 regarding White’s arrest in Savannah, it was reported that White had been engaged in an ongoing, public feud with several local officials and lawyers who he alleges have conspired against him regarding a child custody dispute.
A custody hearing was scheduled with White for Aug. 27. Facebook posts White said he made regarding that hearing are believed to be what TBI and Dunavant referred to as the “series of threats posted on social media” by White that started the investigation.
In one post from Aug. 4, White names local officials, saying he was going to expose corrupt acts and adding, “Ya’ll are not gonna believe what they did to me and I’m gonna show how they destroyed my family and sold my (child) to (the child’s) own death. I have a valid reason for my actions. And I will tear down the world and destroy whoever was involved in this.”
The post adds that “August 27th is a very important date,” which was the date of the custody hearing.
The Courier has verified the child White is referring to is alive and well.
Another Facebook post from White says, “Happy Friday. To all those on my list. Enjoy your weekend. Come next week, we gonna have a come to Jesus meeting.”
White contends those comments were not threats of physical harm.