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Press Release

Prison Sentence for Possession of Pipe Bombs and Drug Sales

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa

A man who manufactured pipe bombs and distributed methamphetamine was sentenced today to 14 years in federal prison.

Thomas Jay Downer, age 34, from Charles City, Iowa, received the prison term after a July 7, 2022 guilty plea to distribution of more than 5 grams of pure methamphetamine, possession of multiple destructive devices (pipe bombs) and possession of firearms as a felon.

At the guilty plea, Downer admitted he distributed more than 5 grams of pure methamphetamine on October 27, 2020.  He further admitted possessing and selling 5 pipe bombs on October 30, 2020.  Downer also admitted possessing firearms after being convicted of one or more felony offenses on November 13, 2020.  At his detention hearing, it was shown that Downer’s pipe bombs were made of plastic plumbing pipe and included BBs and nails as shrapnel. At sentencing, Downer was found to be a career offender based upon his serious prior criminal history.

Downer was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams.  Downer was sentenced to 168 months’ imprisonment.  He must also serve a 5-year term of supervised release after the prison term.  There is no parole in the federal system.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.

Downer is being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until he can be transported to a federal prison.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Patrick J. Reinert and investigated by Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Court file information at

The case file number is 22-CR-02015.

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Updated February 10, 2023

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses