PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, JANICE K. FEDARCYK, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and RAYMOND W. KELLY, the Police Commissioner of the City of New York, announced today the filing of an indictment against NICHOLAS LAHINES for manufacturing, dealing, transporting, and distributing explosive materials without a license. LAHINES, 37, of Bridgeport, Connecticut, was arrested in the Bronx on May 19, 2011, immediately after selling eight cylinders containing explosives to a confidential source of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (the “CS”). On May 20, 2011, LAHINES was charged in a criminal complaint presented in Manhattan federal court before Magistrate Judge HENRY B. PITMAN and ordered detained.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA stated: “As alleged, Nicholas Lahines was very proud of his bomb-making prowess, and more than happy to offer specific instructions on how to detonate his creations to maximize the harm they caused. The fact that he is in custody and no longer a danger to the public is a measure of how seriously we, along with our law enforcement partners, take the illegal manufacture and sale of explosives, regardless of the seller’s motivation or affiliation.”
FBI Assistant Director in Charge JANICE K. FEDARCYK stated: “Regardless of what purpose was intended, the defendant’s illegal manufacture and distribution of explosives is a serious matter, and the FBI treated it seriously. The defendant’s interest in explosives, even absent any specific plan by him to cause harm, nonetheless posed a serious threat to public safety. He clearly was willing to sell explosive devices without regard to how they would be used.”
NYPD Police Commissioner RAYMOND W. KELLY stated: “NYPD detectives and FBI agents worked successfully together to avert potential serious injury and death that these devices were capable of delivering. Congratulations to them and to U.S. Attorney Bharara and his staff in bringing this individual to justice.”
According to the indictment filed today in Manhattan federal court and the criminal complaint filed on May 20, 2011:
In late April 2011, law enforcement officers suspected that an individual, later identified as NICHOLAS LAHINES, was involved in the distribution of explosive devices. On May 19, law enforcement officers conducted surveillance of LAHINES’ residence in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and followed him as he drove to a parking lot in Bronx County, where the CS entered LAHINES’ car. LAHINES then retrieved two plastic containers from the trunk and gave the plastic containers to the CS. Each of those containers held four cylindrical explosive devices.
LAHINES then discussed the devices with the CS, and explained, among other things, the components that he had used to make the devices, the fact that he had inserted ball bearings within the devices, and that, in the past, he had added glass and metal to such devices. The CS paid LAHINES $3,200 for the devices, and got out of the car. LAHINES was then placed under arrest. The Joint Terrorism Task Force Bomb Technicians took custody of the devices, one of which later tested positive for the presence of gunpowder, and secured LAHINES’ car.
Law enforcement officers searched LAHINES’ Connecticut residence from the evening of his arrest on May 19 through early the next morning, pursuant to a search warrant, and obtained, among other things, tubes, cord-like material, and caps similar in appearance to those used to construct the eight cylindrical devices that LAHINES sold to the CS, and a plastic container holding a powder whose appearance was consistent with that of gunpowder. A small jar of white powdery residue, also found in the residence, detonated in the course of being examined, causing injury to at least one law enforcement officer at the scene.
The indictment charges LAHINES with five offenses which carry the following potential penalties:
Count Charge Maximum Prison Term
1 Manufacture and dealing in explosive materials without a license 10 years
2 Transportation of explosive materials without a license 10 years
3 Distribution of explosive materials without a license 10 years
4 Manufacture and dealing in firearms without a license 5 years
5 Transportation of a destructive device in interstate commerce without a license 5 years
The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge LEONARD B. SAND. LAHINES is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges in the indictment on June 2, 2011, at 10:00 a.m.
Mr. BHARARA praised the investigative efforts of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (“JTTF”) in New York and Connecticut, especially those JTTF members from the FBI and the New York City Police Department, the Bronx District Attorney’s Office, the Connecticut State Police Department, the FBI New Haven Field Office, the trial attorneys with the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut. He also thanked Kimberly Mertz, the FBI Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Field Office.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys JOHN P. CRONAN and SEAN S. BUCKLEY from the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.