Billings Man Sentenced to Prison for Possession of Pipe Bomb
The United States Attorney(s Office announced that MITCHELL TODD ROSS was sentenced on February 19, 2014, to a term of 16 months in federal prison with three years of supervised release to follow, before U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy.
Ross was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to possession of a destructive device - a pipe bomb.
In an Offer of Proof filed with the Court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lori Suek advised the court on November 13th, 2011, at approximately 1:06 am, the Billings Police Department (BPD) stopped on a red 1997 Pontiac Grand Am for not having a license plate lamp. Upon conducting the traffic stop, the driver, later identified as the defendant, Mitchell Todd Ross, failed to comply with police instructions and fled. After a brief foot pursuit, Ross was secured in handcuffs and placed him in the back of a patrol car.
While Ross was escorted to the patrol car, an officer looked inside Ross's car and took pictures of the contents. The items visible within the car included a hard plastic or glass pipe board and a white shirt wrapped in black electrical tape with a green fuse sticking out on the front passenger floor.
Ross's car was searched after he signed a consent form. A BPD bomb team member responded to the scene to determine if the item (suspected pipe bomb) wrapped in a white shirt with black electrical tape and a fuse sticking out of it was safe. Ross told police that a friend, whom he would not identify, approached him the previous day and asked Ross if he could do anything with a pipe bomb. Ross informed the friend he could and claimed the friend informed him the pipe bomb was a dummy. The friend asked Ross if he was interested in the pipe bomb and Ross indicated that he was.
The seized suspected pipe bomb was placed into the BPD explosives bunker. On November 18, 2011, an ATF Special Agent Explosives Enforcement Officer made the suspected pipe bomb safe. The suspected pipe bomb was made by capping the end of a shower head extension tube with a penny and cap, placing powder into the tube, and capping the end. The end without the penny had a round cap and a small hole in it where the green fuse was protruding out of the capped tube. Samples of the powder contained in the tube and the green fuse were collected and, along with the shower-head tube, were sent to the ATF Laboratory for analysis. An ATF Forensic Chemist examined the suspected pipe bomb and concluded that it contained a functional length of green pyrotechnic fuse measuring approximately 1/8 inch in diameter; two nitrate explosive mixtures, pyrotechnic stars and grain hulls; and the remains of a1/2 inch nominal diameter standard 6 inch chrome-plated brass shower arm assembly with a brass nut
US penny to one end of the shower arm effecting closure and the swivel head portion of the shower adapter securing the other end with a 1/8 inch diameter hole - of sufficient size to have accommodated a method of initiation. The ATF Explosives Enforcement Officer, after reviewing the report from the Forensic Chemist, concluded that the materials evaluated were consistent with an improvised explosive weapon; that lighting the fuse would, after a short delay, ignite the explosive filler causing the devise to explode; and that this explosion would produce blast and thermal effects and project fragments at high velocity. The pipe bomb was capable of causing property damage and injury or death to persons near the explosion.