Lawrence M. Lombardi was sentenced to life plus 39 years in federal prison for setting off two pipe bombs in the bathrooms of Lee Hall and Perry Paige in 1999, but his sentence was reduced this afternoon to 54 years.
Due to COVID-19, the re-sentencing hearing was held through a Zoom conference call, with U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle presiding over it.
Hinkle said that Lombardi had a right to a re-sentence hearing based on a Supreme Court decision which resulted in two of the six counts against Lombardi to be vacated.
“I did that because I believe that is the correct application of [United States vs. Davis (2019)],”Hinkle said.
Lombardi apologized for what he did, something he did not do during his 1999 trial. “I’m so sorry for my words and actions of 1999. I take full responsibility for what I said and did then,” Lombardi said. “My actions then were racist and violent and I scared so many people, but I have changed. I am asking for your mercy your honor.”
During the argument from the government, the prosecutor said that she felt like, “the court needs to send a clear and unambiguous message that these acts will not be tolerated and need to be met with the most severe punishment available.”
Lombardi was a white, unemployed funeral embalmer who was said to have called a local television station on Aug. 31 and Sept. 22 using racial slurs and profanity, warning them of the attack before both bombs went off.
Lombardi previously stocked the vending machines at the school, yet maintained his innocence, stating that authorities used him as a scapegoat while ignoring leads that may have led to someone else, during his sentencing in June 2000.
A statement was given at today’s hearing by the president of FAMU, Larry Robinson. “I believe strongly that Mr. Lombardi should suffer the maximum penalty available under the law,” Robinson said in a written statement submitted to the court. “I can tell you personally the trauma that it caused me as an individual. I would be terribly concerned if he were to continue upon his effort upon release.”
FAMU was and still is Florida’s largest and only public HBCU, and this attack led to multiple students withdrawing from the school during the fall semester of 1999. Although no one was injured by the bombs, the fear that Lombardi caused throughout the campus is something current students do not want to deal with.
Rhiana Long, a fourth-year computer information systems student, said Lombardi did not deserve to have his sentence reduced.
“I don’t think he should be released nor have his sentence reduced. The crime was racially motivated and he was trying to hurt innocent Black people,” Long said. “We deal with enough hate crimes in this country and most of them are never handled accordingly. When we are able to hold people responsible, they should have to deal with the consequences.”
Hinkle ended the hearing by saying, “I have no confidence that this act will not be committed again. It will be irresponsible for me to let him back out on the streets.”