Man re-sentenced to 10 years in prison for 2014 fake bomb threat

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — A 31-year-old man who called in a fake bomb threat to a local elementary school in 2014 was re-sentenced to 10 years in state prison Thursday.

“The defendant showed many indications that he is dangerous,” prosecuting attorney Brian Workman argued during the re-sentencing at the Indian River County Courthouse. “The state needs to be responsible for protecting its citizens.”

Matthew Hawks, of Vero Beach, was initially sentenced to five years probation after the bomb threat, which targeted Vero Beach Elementary school, reports show. In a series of phone calls to the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office in April 2014, Hawks said, “No one is going to make it,” authorities said.

Deputies then arrested Hawks.

Hawks’ father, Greg Hawks, 71, and grandmother Janet Ponik, 85, both of Vero Beach, were not pleased with Cox’s decision. Their biggest concern is Hawks’ intellectual disability.

“He was born with an intellectual disability. People like Matthew are not taken into consideration,” Greg Hawks said Thursday. “There was no discussion on mental health. He has been to doctors all his life.”

Hawks, who wore glasses and stared occasionally at courtroom spectators during the re-sentencing, told Judge Cynthia Cox he stayed out of trouble while serving time in prison.

Hawks violated his probation in June 2016 after authorities said he was involved in lewd acts with several children online. Federal authorities sentenced Hawks a year later to 30 years in prison for the offense, after he plead guilty to three counts of producing child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography.

For the probation violation, Cox sentenced Hawks to 10 years with the Florida Department of Corrections. But, an appellate court vacated Hawks’ conviction and sentencing in August 2017 after finding that Cox did not properly evaluate Hawks’ mental health, reports show.

While Cox did allow Hawks’ attorney to have his competency evaluated in 2016, “there is no evidence she reviewed the findings,”  justices with Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeals wrote when they overturned his conviction and sentencing.

For the new sentence, Hawks will have two and a half years counted as time served, Cox ruled. Hawks will serve the state sentence concurrently with his 30-year federal sentence.

Upon release, Hawks must undergo a mental health evaluation, complete two years of community control and remain at least 200 feet away from any public or private schools.


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