Federal Jury Convicts Fruitland Man of Conspiracy, Arson and Theft
Destroyed Government Vehicles and Building in Payette, Idaho, in May 2011
BOISE – U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced today that David Joseph VonBargen, 50, of Fruitland, Idaho, was convicted by a federal jury of carrying and using firearms – Molotov cocktails – during and in relation to a federal crime of violence, conspiracy to maliciously use explosive materials, conspiracy to maliciously damage federal property, and theft of firearms.
During the five day trial, the jury heard evidence that on May 27, 2011, VonBargen and his co-defendant, Donovan James Bolen, 22, also of Fruitland, schemed to set fires in Payette to divert law enforcement while they broke into the World’s Largest Pawn Shop, in Fruitland, and stole firearms. The jury found VonBargen guilty of using Molotov cocktails to set fire to two U.S. Department of Agriculture vehicles and a lumber warehouse belonging to Western Core Door, Inc., in Payette. The jury also found VonBargen guilty of burglarizing and stealing 12 firearms, including rifles, revolvers, and pistols, from the World’s Largest Pawnshop.
VonBargen is set for sentencing on June 25, 2013, before Chief U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill at the federal courthouse in Boise. He faces a minimum term of 35 years up to life in prison, a maximum fine of $1,760,000, and up to 26 years of supervised release.
Bolen was sentenced on February 5, 2013, to 444 months in federal prison for the same crimes. Following his release from prison, Bolen will be on supervised release for five years. He was ordered to pay $162,124.87 in restitution to the victims, Western Core Door, Inc. 2 and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Bolen was found guilty of the charges on October 16, 2012, following a five day trial.
“Mr. VonBargen’s use of Molotov cocktails to divert the attention of law enforcement was unconscionable, endangered the lives of first responders, and destroyed the property of innocent victims,” said Olson. “I commend the swift law enforcement response that brought both of the defendants in this case to justice. Mr. VonBargen now, like his co-defendant, faces a well-deserved lengthy prison sentence.”
The case was investigated by the Fruitland Police Department, the Payette Police Department, the Payette County Sheriff's Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the Idaho State Fire Marshal.
Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is a collaborative effort by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and communities to prevent and deter gun violence.