SAN JOSE – Peter Karasev, 36, a U.S. citizen residing in San Jose, was arraigned in the Northern District of California today on an indictment charging him with destroying energy facilities and using fire or explosives to commit a federal crime. Karasev made his appearance today before United States Magistrate Judge Virginia K. DeMarchi.
According to court documents, Karasev was indicted on Oct. 19. As alleged in counts one and two of the indictment, Karasev knowingly and willfully damaged the property of two energy facilities – specifically, two PG&E transformers in San Jose, California on Dec. 8, 2022, and Jan. 5, 2023, respectively – and attempted to cause and caused significant interruption and impairment of those energy facilities. The indictment also alleges, in count three, that the defendant used fire and an explosive to commit a felony, specifically, the destruction of an energy facility on Jan. 5, 2023.
“These charges make clear that those who attack our country’s critical infrastructure will be met with the full force of the Justice Department,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “We have charged Peter Karasev with bombing two energy transformers in Northern California, leaving more than 1,500 households and businesses in the San Jose community without power. I want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Northern District of California and the FBI for their work to bring the defendant to justice and prevent further harm to the San Jose community.”
“The defendant in this case allegedly used explosives to try to cut off electricity to more than 1,500 San Jose businesses and residences,” said U.S. Attorney Ismail J. Ramsey. “Damaging our region’s critical infrastructure endangers innocent victims—including our most vulnerable citizens such as the elderly and the sick—and we will not tolerate it. We will vigorously prosecute any malicious attempts to disrupt the power grid.”
“Attacks and threats against neighborhood energy facilities with explosives are more than alarming. The FBI and our partners will not tolerate criminal activity that puts the safety of our citizens at risk,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert K. Tripp. “I commend the San Jose Police Department for their swift action in identifying and apprehending Karasev. Their excellent detective work prevented further harm to our community.”
As described in a government memorandum seeking Karasev’s pretrial detention, Karasev constructed, planted and ignited the explosive devices that caused each of the transformer explosions. Both attacks occurred during the early morning hours in commercial areas occupied by stores and businesses, and collectively terminated power to over 1,500 households and businesses in the San Jose community.
The government’s memorandum also detailed that in the months leading up to the attacks, Karasev was building and experimenting with homemade explosives, as well as manufacturing methamphetamine, in his own home. At the time of his arrest, Karasev was allegedly in possession of a range of improvised explosive devices in varying stages of completion, as well as multiple firearms, additional weapons, over 300 pounds of explosive precursor materials, and other hazardous substances.
Karasev was arrested in March 2023 by the San Jose Police Departement and remained in custody on related state charges prior to his transfer to federal custody for this case. A federal grand jury charged Karasev with two counts of destruction of an energy facility and one count of use of fire or an explosive to commit a federal felony. If convicted, Karasev faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison on the third count to be served consecutively to any imprisonment imposed for either of the other counts. Karasev faces a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release for each count. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Karasev was ordered detained pending his next federal court appearance. His next appearance is scheduled to take place on January 30, 2024, before Hon. Beth Labson Freeman, United States District Judge.
This case is being investigated by the FBI and the San Jose Police Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Anne C. Hsieh for the Northern District of California and Trial Attorney Jacob Warren of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.