A 64-year-old New Mexico woman has pleaded not guilty to federal charges stemming from an indictment alleging that she called in a bomb threat during a Montana Trappers Association banquet in May.
Dora Sandra Gomez, also known as Bella Gomez, of Albuquerque, entered the plea to charges of issuing false information and hoaxes in U.S. District Court in Missoula on Oct. 14, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
Prosecutors allege that on May 8 Gomez made an anonymous phone call to the Frontier Event Center in Dillon, which was hosting a banquet of the Montana Trappers Association. During the call she is alleged to have "stated that a remotely operated explosive device was located inside the building where the banquet was taking place and people could get hurt, or words to that effect,” federal officials said.
The phoned threat did not go directly to the Dillon Police Department, but once police were advised of the call around 8 p.m., officers responded to the banquet and evacuated the hall, Dillon Police Chief Don Guiberson told the Montana Standard.
No one was hurt. Hours later, a bomb-sniffing dog found no evidence of explosives. The banquet resumed the next day.
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Charging documents do not indicate how the FBI identified Gomez or how she was brought into custody.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto released Gomez pending further proceedings.
A trial date has been set for Dec. 20 before U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen in Missoula.
If convicted, Gomez faces a maximum five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.
Tom Kuglin is the deputy editor for the Lee Newspapers State Bureau. His coverage focuses on outdoors, recreation and natural resources.