Harlem Math Teacher Who Paid Students to Dismantle Fireworks and Store Explosive Powder Sentenced - NBC New York

Chief Investigative Reporter Jonathan Dienst on crime, corruption and terrorism.

Harlem Math Teacher Who Paid Students to Dismantle Fireworks and Store Explosive Powder Sentenced

The judge cited these "dangerous times" as the reason he nearly doubled the federal sentencing guidelines when he handed down the six-year term

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Bronx Brothers Plead Guilty in Bomb Plot

    A former New York City teacher and his brother have struck a deal in which they admitted to gathering materials for a bomb.

    (Published Monday, Nov. 26, 2018)

    What to Know

    • A Harlem math teacher who paid students to dismantle fireworks and store the explosive powder was sentenced to nearly six years in prison

    • The judge cited these "dangerous times" when schools and places of worship must guard against violence as part of his sentencing

    • Prosecutors said the teacher and a brother who awaits sentencing stored a cache of dangerous materials in a Bronx apartment

    A Harlem math teacher who paid students to dismantle fireworks and store the explosive powder was sentenced to nearly six years in prison Wednesday by a judge who cited these "dangerous times" when schools and places of worship must guard against violence.

    U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman nearly doubled the three-to-four years called for by federal sentencing guidelines when he sentenced Christian Toro to five years and 10 months in prison.

    Toro, 28, pleaded guilty in November to unlawfully manufacturing and aiding the construction of a destructive device and distributing explosive materials to a minor.

    "These are dangerous times," Berman said as he explained his decision to comply with prosecutors' request that he go above the recommended sentencing guidelines range.

    Agents Arrest Twins Over Alleged Bomb Making Plot in NYC

    [NY] Agents Arrest Twins Over Alleged Bomb Making Plot in NYC

    A former teacher at a Harlem charter school stockpiled bomb-making materials and paid students to break down fireworks to extract gunpowder for the explosives, authorities say. Michael George reports.

    (Published Friday, Feb. 16, 2018)

    He cited "attacks upon our society and our way of life, including attacks against schools, for example, or against synagogues or mosques or churches."

    Berman said the violence has included "attacks against our everyday routines and our everyday way of life" and urged people in positions of authority to make sure they are positive influences on children.

    He added that it was "past the time for all of us to wake up and to stop accepting inappropriate behaviors as normative or just the way things are."

    Neighbors Stunned Over Explosives Arrest of NYC Brothers

    [NY] Neighbors, Friends Stunned Over Explosives Arrest of NYC Brothers

    Christian Toro and his brother, Tyler Toro, were arrested by the FBI after authorities found a bomb-making manual on the teacher's school-issued laptop. Ray Villeda reports.

    (Published Friday, Feb. 16, 2018)

    Prosecutors said Toro and a brother who awaits sentencing stored a cache of dangerous materials in a Bronx apartment, and Toro paid at least two students to break apart commercial fireworks and store their explosive powder in containers.

    They said the powder and other explosive materials, enough to construct a bomb, were found after a student Toro was having sex with called in a bomb threat to her school.

    In court papers, Toro's lawyer requested leniency, saying Toro has expressed "sincere shame and remorse" and is now "clean and sober and rehabilitated."

    Berman said that Toro, who has already been incarcerated 15 months, must serve the federal sentence in addition to any time he eventually serves anywhere else.

    Prosecutors noted in their sentencing submission that he has been charged with statutory rape and related charges based on his relationship with the student.

    They rejected his lawyer's argument that Toro was engaged in solitary exploration to satisfy his "misplaced curiosity."

    They said his actions "suggests that the defendant intended to elicit fear with his actions."

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