Bethesda Teen Pleads Guilty to Illegal Possession of a Destructive Device

September 23, 2009

Greenbelt, Maryland - Collin McKenzie-Gude, age 19, of Bethesda, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to possession of an unregistered destructive device, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein.

“We cannot know for certain what Collin McKenzie-Gude would have done if law enforcement had not acted,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “What we know for certain is that he made and exploded pipe bombs and had the components to build new explosive devices.”

According to his plea agreement and court documents, on July 29, 2008, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at McKenzie-Gude’s home and recovered from his bedroom: an AR-15, AK-47 and AK-74 rifle; two shotguns; one 9mm handgun; two smoke grenades, a modified flash bang grenade, copper wire, timers, modified light switch with the words “fire” and “safe” written on it, clothespin switches, loop switches, model rocket igniters, and batteries; chemicals including sodium nitrate, ammonium nitrate, nitromethane and other chemicals used to make an explosive device; and printed instructions for the construction of an improvised rifle silencer, linear shaped charge, cylindrical cavity shaped charge, plastic explosive filler, urea nitrate explosive, copper chlorate explosive, sodium chlorate and sugar explosive and for an electric bulb initiator.

Also recovered from that bedroom was a fake Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) identification access badge and a fake United States Government Geneva Conventions Identification Card, known as a Common Access Card (CAC) and a thumb drive. Both identification cards contained the McKenzie-Gude’s photo and the CAC card contained the name of an individual with initials M.K.L. Contained on the thumb drive’s image files was a picture of McKenzie-Gude similar to the one appearing on both identification cards, agency seals, bar codes, an American flag, and background images used in the production of the cards. Located within the files are images of the front and back of a CIA identification card and CAC that appear to be exact matches to those seized from the bedroom of McKenzie-Gude. The thumb drive contained the same instruction documents that were recovered from McKenzie-Gude’s bedroom.

Mckenzie-Gude admitted that he was knowledgeable about how to make explosive devices, such as Improvised Explosive Devices (IED’s) and shape charges. A shaped charge is an explosive charge shaped to focus the effect of the explosive's energy. Shaped charges are used to explosively “cut” through a hard object, such as steel. McKenzie-Gude also admitted that during the two years prior to the execution of the search warrant, Mckenzie-Gude shot weapons with another individual and was present at another individual’s home in Gaithersburg, Maryland, when approximately five pipe bombs were detonated. Post-blast evidence consisting of PVC pipes, steel pipes, pipe nipples, steel end caps, electrical wires, copper fragments and model rocket igniter remnants were recovered from the home in June 2008. Some of the pipes were heavily burned, melted or distorted and some of the electrical wire was covered with dirt and mud. A latent fingerprint of Mckenzie-Gude’s was recovered from the adhesive side of a piece of tape that was attached to some wires and a battery.

A report received from the FBI Lab states the items that were seized from McKenzie-Gude’s bedroom could be easily assembled into a homemade bomb or a destructive device. Additionally, one of the items submitted for examination was an improvised grenade.

The government contends, but McKenzie-Gude has not agreed, that based upon evidence recovered from his bedroom and his cellular phone, McKenzie-Gude was also researching Explosively Formed Projectiles (EFP’s), booby trap type devices and high explosive chemical compounds. An EFP is a type of petard also known as an explosively formed projectile, a self-forging warhead, or a self-forging fragment, typically made of copper, and is a special type of shaped charge designed to penetrate armor effectively at stand-off distances. The government also contends that several types of improvised blasting caps recovered from McKenzie-Gude’s bedroom can be used to detonate high explosives and that some of the chemicals found in Mckenzie-Gude’s bedroom could be readily made into several high explosive compounds.

Finally, the government contends that McKenzie-Gude made and detonated, between 15 and 25 pipe bombs at the residence in Gaithersburg between 2007 and June 2008, which, with the agreed upon evidence, would establish that McKenzie-Gude possessed between eight and 24 firearms.

McKenzie-Gude faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for possession of the destructive device. U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte has scheduled sentencing for January 7, 2010 at 9:30 a.m. McKenzie-Gude is currently detained on related state charges.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, United States Secret Service, the Montgomery County Police Department, the Montgomery County Office of the Fire Marshal and Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy and his office for their work in this investigation and prosecution. Mr. Rosenstein commended Assistant United States Attorneys Bryan E. Foreman, who is prosecuting the case.



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