- The Washington Times - Friday, March 26, 2004

An Alexandria, Va., man was sentenced yesterday in federal court to 30 months in prison and fined $6,000 after he pleaded guilty in January to charges of extortion and possessing an unregistered short-barreled rifle.

U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty in Alexandria said Christian Kerodin, 36, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee, who also ordered that the prison term be followed by three years of supervised release.

Mr. McNulty said Kerodin published a report on the Internet in May titled “Terrorist Target List: American Retailers & Restaurants,” which said shopping venues were likely to be prime targets for terrorist attacks and billed himself as a security expert.

A month later, he said, Kerodin contacted officials at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, Landmark Mall and Tysons Galleria, saying that a new edition of his Internet report was due shortly and that if they contracted with him for security assessments, he would not include their names in the new report as needing security upgrades.

The Fashion Centre is owned by the Simon Property Group, and Landmark and Tysons Galleria are owned by General Growth Properties Inc.

Mr. McNulty said mall officials asked Kerodin to provide the names of other clients for references or to supply credentials for persons who worked for his company. He refused, saying he did not need experience to be an expert in counterterrorism. None of the malls hired him.

In July, Kerodin published the report, which criticized several area shopping malls for being vulnerable to terrorist attacks, specifically criticizing the Fashion Centre, Landmark Mall and Tysons Galleria. Mr. McNulty said Kerodin recontacted officials at Simon and General Growth by letter and threatened to release similarly negative reports on 14 other properties that the companies owned.

An agent from the Department of Homeland Security posing as a mall executive then contacted Kerodin, telling him the malls had hired another security company and asking that they not be included in additional reports. The agent also offered Kerodin $40,000 to be left out of any new reports.

Mr. McNulty said Kerodin rejected the offer and demanded $122,500. He then was arrested.

“This defendant took advantage of the heightened concern we all have to protect ourselves from terrorism. It is reprehensible that someone would exploit that concern for personal gain,” Mr. McNulty said.

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