Maryland Man Sentenced to over 5 Years in Prison for Illegal Possession of a Destructive Device
Developed Plans to Commit Other Crimes
Greenbelt, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte sentenced Collin McKenzie-Gude, age 20, of Bethesda, Maryland, today to 61 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for possession of an unregistered destructive device. Judge Messitte said he hoped that the sentence would send a message to deter anyone else from similar conduct.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Special Agent in Charge Theresa R. Stoop of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives - Baltimore Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Barbara Golden of the United States Secret Service – Baltimore Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Irvine of the United States Secret Service – Washington Field Office; Chief J. Thomas Manger of the Montgomery County Police Department; Montgomery County Fire Marshal Michael Love; and Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy.
"It is better for law enforcement to disrupt criminals who amass illegal weapons at the planning stage than to wait too long and deal with the aftermath,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “We cannot know for certain whether Collin McKenzie-Gude would have used his arsenal of illegal weapons to kill people, but his conviction for attempted carjacking removes all doubt that he is capable of committing violence. I commend the Montgomery County authorities and federal agents and prosecutors for their handling of this case.”
According to McKenzie-Gude’s 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 McKenzie-Gude’s bedroom was a fake CIA identification badge; a fake U.S. government Geneva Conventions identification card, known as a Common Access Card (CAC); and a thumb drive. Both identification cards contained McKenzie-Gude’s photo and the CAC card also contained the name of another individual. 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 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, he 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 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.
At the sentencing hearings held in the past week, the government introduced evidence recovered from McKenzie-Gude’s bedroom and his cellular phone to show that 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 presented evidence that several types of improvised blasting caps recovered from McKenzie-Gude’s bedroom could 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.
The government introduced further evidence that McKenzie-Gude made and detonated between 15 and 25 pipe bombs at the residence in Gaithersburg between 2007 and June 2008.
Judge Messitte also ruled that the defendant's sentencing guideline range should be enhanced because McKenzie-Gude used the illegal weapons in connection with another felony offense. Specifically, the judge found that McKenzie-Gude developed plans to assassinate then-presidential candidate Barack Obama and to acquire illegal handguns with obliterated serial numbers. The government introduced evidence that the defendant developed a contingency plan to kill the gun seller and burn his body.
Mr. Rosenstein commended Assistant United States Attorneys Bryan E. Foreman and Mara Zusman, who prosecuted the case.