Judge: Man accused in bomb plot not competent for trial

Gavel - KXAN File

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — A young Florida man accused of sending bomb-making plans to an FBI informant for an alleged attack on the 9/11 anniversary is not mentally competent enough to stand trial, a federal judge ruled on Monday.

Joshua Goldberg, 20, has been charged with distributing information relating to explosives and weapons of mass destruction. At a hearing Monday in Jacksonville federal court, U.S. Magistrate Judge James Klindt ordered him to complete a more thorough four-month evaluation and an evaluation of his sanity at the time of the alleged offense.

The FBI says Goldberg called for an attack on a May 3 contest for drawings of the Prophet Muhammad in Garland, Texas, and boasted about helping plan attacks on synagogues in Australia. Using the online name “Australi Witness,” authorities say, Goldberg claimed to be a radical with ties to ISIS in an attempt to spur terror plots around the world.

Federal investigators earlier this year tracked messages associated with Australi Witness to Goldberg’s address in Orange Park, about 15 miles south of Jacksonville, according to the complaint. They said that after sending information about how to build a bomb, Goldberg suggested to the informant that he target a commemoration of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in Kansas City.

No bomb was produced, and Goldberg was arrested Sept. 10.

In interviews with a federal prison psychologist, Goldberg said the intent of his online trolling was to ferret out information about terrorists because he was interested in becoming a journalist or working with the FBI.

After numerous interviews, Dr. Lisa Feldman, a forensic psychologist with the Federal Detention Center in Miami, found Goldberg not mentally sound enough for trial. She said Goldberg suffers from a mental disorder she described as on the “schizophrenia spectrum” and that he could not participate in his own defense.

With spectacles and shoulder-length, unkempt brown hair, Goldberg appeared in court in a red jail jumpsuit. He did not address the court during the proceedings but waved at his parents sitting in the gallery.

Goldberg exhibited “very paranoid, suspicious ideas and a feeling that other people wanted to harm him,” Feldman testified.

After his transfer to the detention center in Miami, Goldberg stopped bathing himself and was eventually put on suicide watch, Feldman said. She said he insisted constantly that he should be in a hospital, not a prison.

While she could not rule out that Goldman was exaggerating some of his mental health symptoms, Feldman said Goldman’s background materials and behavior at the facility made it clear to her that he was not able to understand his legal predicament.

Neither Kevin Frein, a national security prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, nor Goldman’s attorney Paul Shorstein, objected to her findings.

Shorstein has also let the court know of his intent to plead an insanity defense should the case proceed to trial in the future.

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