TRENTON – A former Monmouth County resident and two-time candidate for Congress admitted in federal court to making threatening phone calls and sending threatening emails to elected officials, judges, police and lawyers.

Eric Hafner, 31, also admitted to phoning in false bomb threats to state and local government offices, a police department, two law firms and a Monmouth County horseracing track. He attempted to extort $350,000 from some of his victims.

The threats were made repeatedly between July and September 2016, beginning one day after Hafner flew from Hawaii to Japan, followed by an additional threatening email in May 2018.

The threats began when Hafner was a candidate in the Republican primary for Hawaii’s 2nd District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. He lost the primary with 44% of the vote.

Two years later, Hafner ran in the Democratic primary for Oregon’s 3rd District seat in the House of Representatives – from Toms River – but lost with about 1% of the vote. Three days after that election, he sent the last of the threatening emails.

Hafner threatened to kill or injure a police officer, former assistant prosecutor and others related to legal proceedings associated with his arrest on a juvenile complaint in 2007, to which he pleaded guilty. He also threatened their families, including in a direct call to a police officer’s home.

Some of the attorneys and judge were threatened in connection with a family court case that went against Hafner in 2012 and a municipal court case from 2011.

Hafner was arrested in 2019 in the Northern Mariana Islands and indicted on 33 counts.

Hafner pleaded guilty to one count of making threatening communications in interstate or foreign commerce with intent to extort, one count of making threatening communications in interstate or foreign commerce and one count of conveying false information concerning the use of an explosive device.

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He is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 21. The most serious of the charges, regarding the intention to extort, carries a potential prison sentence of up to 20 years. Each charge carries a fine of up to $250,000.

Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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