SUPERIOR COURT - A 27-year-old Wantage woman who admitted she threatened to blow up two schools and a local eatery - acts that sparked evacuations and large police presence - was sentenced to probation.
Amanda Toth appeared in front of Judge Thomas J. Critchley Friday, Sept. 13, where she was ordered to serve three years probation. In July, Toth pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree false public alarm and the state, represented by Assistant Prosecutor Sahil Kabse, recommended the three-year non-custodial probation term.
Under the guidelines of her sentence, Toth is to undergo a mental health evaluation and to pay $3,044.74 in restitution, with payments no less than $10 a month. However, that restitution may be waived if Toth can prove she has either enrolled at a local college or secured employment by the end of October.
Toth’s attorney, Shaun Russell, told the court her client has a certificate as a medical assistant and was actively seeking a job for a while in that field.
"She is remorseful, she did not intend any harm in this matter," Russell said. "She acknowledges that it was a serious lack of judgment, but at no point did she have any ill intent or wish that any harm would come to anyone."
Several letters addressed to the court on Toth’s behalf were submitted, including one from her sister, who is the mother of the children whose school was evacuated due to Toth’s bomb threats.
Kabse said that while he did not believe Toth intended to cause any serious harm, threats are taken very seriously in a day and age when it’s possible they could be legitimate.
"The emotional stress these people in these establishments have to go through is very serious," Kabse said. "For those reasons, we have to take these offenses very seriously."
Toth spoke briefly in court, stating: "I apologize for the situation."
Critchley told her it was "no joke" to cause such a public alarm, adding, "It should never happen again, so don’t even think about it."
Toth was arrested twice - once on Feb. 11 and again on March 11. The second arrest led to her detainment in the county jail, giving her credit for 99 days of time served.
In the March 11 incident - which led to her March 28 arrest - Toth admitted she used her niece’s cell phone to use the "TextNow" app to disguise her number. She then sent messages to her sister - the same who wrote a letter on her behalf to the court - indicating that the schools where her sister’s children were attending were going to be blown up.
The schools each enacted security plans and dismissed early as law enforcement officers conducted sweeps.
None of the threats were deemed credible.
On Feb. 11, Toth was arrested after she used the "TextNow" app to threaten the McDonald’s manager/owner, specifically stating she was going to either blow up or a bomb was on the premises of the fast food establishment.
Toth is to not have any contact with the Clifton E. Lawrence, Sussex Middle and Wantage schools, all in Wantage, and the McDonald’s on Route 23 in Franklin.
Toth was initially facing a total of six charges and up to 31 years in prison if convicted.
Lori Comstock can also be reached on Twitter: @LoriComstockNJH, on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/LoriComstockNJH or by phone: 973-383-1194.
Editor’s note: This story has been revised to remove the claim of a workplace for Amanda Toth.