Christian Kerodin used to fix heaters and air conditioners. After the Sept. 11, 2001, he focused on the vulnerability of major Washington, D.C.-area shopping malls to terrorism, reports the Washington Post. With no experience, Kerodin started a consulting firm and issued reports criticizing security at several malls, saying they had failed to prepare for biological, chemical or other attacks. He touted his reports in news releases and convinced the editor of a national real estate publication to feature him as an expert with 20 years of foreign policy and counter-terrorism experience. His reports were quoted by Wall Street analysts. He was scheduled to speak at an emergency preparedness conference with a senior Treasury Department official.
Kerodin, 37, has admitted to extorting money from some of the region’s biggest mall owners by threatening to expose their alleged vulnerabilities to “Islamic terrorism” if they did not hire him as a consultant. He was sentenced last week to 2 1/2 years in prison.
Kerodin’s case highlights a trend of people trying to profit from concerns about terrorism. U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty, whose office prosecuted Kerodin and other similar cases recently, said Kerodin “took advantage of the heightened concern we all have to protect ourselves from terrorism. It is reprehensible that he exploited that concern for personal gain.”