A Ventura County man was sentenced Monday to 18 months in federal prison for making threatening telephone calls last year, including a Planned Parenthood office, on the day the United States Supreme Court overturned its Roe v. Wade decision.
Nishith Tharaka Vandebona, 34, of Oxnard, but who lived in Camarillo when he committed the crimes, was sentenced by United States District Judge R. Gary Klausner, who described the threatening phone calls as “egregious.”
Vandebona has been in federal custody since June 12, 2023 when he pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of threatened forcible intimidation regarding the obtaining and provision of reproductive health services under the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act and one felony count of transmitting threatening communications in interstate commerce.
“Seeking to intimidate others through death threats is unacceptable,” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada. “Today’s sentence shows that there will be consequences for those who threaten violence against workers at reproductive health facilities in violation of federal law.”
“Mr. Vandebona crossed the line from protected speech to criminal activity when he terrorized his ideological adversaries with death threats,” said Donald Alway, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “The FBI safeguards the rights of all citizens and, as today’s sentencing makes clear, will hold accountable those who threaten or violate the civil rights of others.”
In February and June of 2022, Vandebona used an internet application to create anonymous telephone numbers to make the threatening calls.
During the spring of 2022, there was news coverage that the Supreme Court was considering overturning Roe, its 1973 decision that recognized a constitutional right to abortion, after an initial draft of the new opinion was leaked.
On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court published a decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe and ruled that the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion.
On the same day, using an anonymous number, Vandebona left a voicemail message containing death threats with Planned Parenthood California Central Coast, a Santa Barbara-based reproductive health services organization.
On June 25, 2022, Vandebona called Planned Parenthood Los Angeles and spoke with a call center specialist. Vandebona said, “I’m calling to let you know that I’m going to come in there and kill all of you, including your staff and your security. You got it? You’re overdue for an attack.”
Within an hour, Vandebona telephoned Planned Parenthood Los Angeles again and made several death threats, including “I’m gonna come in there and murder your staff.”
Prior to the threats to the Planned Parenthood facilities, Vandebona called in a bomb threat in February 2022 to the office of Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS), a Ventura-based non-profit organization that advocates for “zero population growth,” primarily through immigration restrictions.
Vandebona used anonymous numbers he obtained from the internet to make threatening phone calls to CAPS. In one of the calls, he said, “I’m gonna come in there and kill all of you, dude. Be careful.”
In another call to CAPS in February 2022, Vandebona said, “I’m gonna come in there, plant a bomb, and kill as many white Americans as possible. You understand that? Servicemen, families, everybody.”
The FBI investigated this matter. The Santa Barbara Police Department, the Santa Monica Police Department, and the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office assisted in this investigation.
Assistant United States Attorney Frances S. Lewis of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section prosecuted this case.
Anyone who has information about incidents of violence, threats, and obstruction that target a patient or provider of reproductive health services or damage and destruction of reproductive health care facilities, should report that information to the FBI at https://tips.fbi.gov.
For more information about clinic violence, and the Department of Justice’s efforts to enforce FACE Act violations, please visit www.justice.gov/crt/national-task-force-violence-against-reproductive-health-care-providers.