A federal judge in Tallahassee resentenced Lawrence Lombardi Thursday to an additional 33 years in prison for two bombings on the Florida A&M University (FAMU) campus in fall semester 1999.
Lombardi, 62, has already served 21 years. The then-Tallahassee resident was unemployed when he exploded a pipe bomb in Lee Hall on August 31, 1999, and a second bomb in Perry-Paige on September 22. Lombardi, who had serviced vending machines on the FAMU campus, also threatened further bombings.
Although no one was physically injured, the psyche of the campus was severely damaged, and the emotional distress lingers today.
In handing down the lengthy sentence, U.S. District Judge Robert E. Hinkle acknowledged that Lombardi committed the bombings when such openly racial actions were less prevalent and less tolerated.
“He thought he was wronged by African Americans back then,” Hinkle said. “I don’t have any confidence that if he was released, he wouldn’t commit a crime of this nature. It would be irresponsible for me to put Mr. Lombardi back on the street.”
During the hearing, President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., who was director of the Environmental Sciences Institute and a professor at the time, spoke about the trauma caused by the bombings. Afterward, Robinson said Hinkle summed up the seriousness of the crime and the appropriateness of Lombardi’s continued imprisonment.
“The court sent a clear and unambiguous message that these kinds of acts will not be tolerated, especially in light of the current racial climate,” Robinson said. “Imposing a sentence of time served would have sent the wrong message about how our country responds to such acts.”
Based on a 2019 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, two of Lombardi’s six convictions were invalidated last month. During the hour-long hearing, Lombardi was asking for a sentence of time served, which could have led his release.