Ex-Maximus manager accused of threatening to bomb Boise call center, shoot people

krodine@idahostatesman.comMarch 5, 2014 

To Ada County prosecutors, Michael S. Fox is an unstable man who last fall twice made false threats that disrupted operations at his workplace, a massive call center that handles Affordable Care Act questions.

To defense attorney David Leroy, Fox is a stable divorced father and longtime Boise resident who was among numerous Maximus employees frustrated by their treatment at the call center, which last week announced it plans to lay off most of its work force in April because of declining call volumes as the ACA enrollment deadline approaches.

Those disparate views were outlined Friday during Fox’s arraignment on two felony charges of making a false bomb threat. The case against Fox is expected to be detailed March 14 at a preliminary hearing that will determine whether it will proceed to district court, where felonies are tried.

“There was indeed a difficulty, a perceived unfairness in employment as to him and fellow employees, and he engaged in inappropriate conduct as to that employer at that time, it is alleged,” Leroy said during Fox’s arraignment. “We’ve learned just this week that that employer indeed is in the process of perpetrating at least what the headlines suggest is employment unfairness in terminating all those ... people they are firing.”

Nine Maximus employees have filed a lawsuit alleging violations of overtime laws, and their lawyer said the call center workers thought their jobs were permanent, not seasonal.

Fox, who spent about eight months as a training and operations manager at Maximus, is accused of leaving a note in a Maximus men’s room Sept. 26, threatening that there was a bomb on the campus and “that he was going to shoot many of the employees,” Deputy Ada County Prosecutor Sarah Simmons said. The threat prompted police to empty the call center, located on the Hewlett-Packard campus off Chinden Boulevard. About 1,600 people — the same number Maximus announced Feb. 24 will be laid off this spring — were evacuated while police searched for nonexistent explosives.

A second threat of explosives and shootings was posted on a website frequented by Maximus employees a month later, Simmons said, and Fox also is charged with that incident. Simmons said Fox’s actions also sparked copycat threats.

Fox was fired in mid-February after an interview with Boise police and the FBI in which, Simmons said, Fox admitted his role in the bomb threats.

Leroy stressed Fox's cooperation with police and his lack of criminal record in arguing for a low bond of $10,000, Fox was free for about two weeks between his admission and his arrest, he said, but he did not flee. Simmons asked the judge to keep the bond at the initial $150,000.

Ada County Magistrate Richard Schmidt set Fox’s bond at $75,000. As of Wednesday evening he remained in the Ada County Jail.

Fox has not yet entered a plea to the charges, each of which could carry a sentence of up to five years in state prison.

Kristin Rodine: 377-6447

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