Thursday, September 13, 2012

Security: Pittsburgh man pleads guilty to offering to build bombs in exchange for money, gun

U.S. Attorney’s Office 
Western District of Pennsylvania

PITTSBURGH—A resident of McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of distributing information relating to explosives with the intent that it be used for a crime of violence, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.

Michael Steven Cech, 41, pleaded guilty to one count before Senior United States District Judge Donetta W. Ambrose.

“Michael Cech claimed to have built many bombs and, in this case, he made a functional device in exchange for $300 and a gun,” said U.S. Attorney Hickton. “We must and we will do everything possible to protect the public from this type of dangerous criminal conduct.”

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that on May 18, 2012, a government confidential informant met with Cech. During the recorded conversation, the informant indicated to Cech that he was implicated in a federal drug case and that he had a need for a bomb in order to prevent a witness from testifying against him. Cech indicated that would be “no problem,” and that he was going to put nails in the bomb so that what the explosion did not “get,” the nails would. Cech indicated to the informant that he had built bombs “many times,” and that all the informant would have to do was to “light it and throw it.” Further, Cech promised that his bomb would work. When the informant asked Cech what he wanted in exchange for the bomb, Cech stated that he wanted a .45 caliber pistol and $300.

On May 25, 2012, Cech met the informant at a parking lot in Monroeville, Pennsylvania. When Cech arrived, he was in possession of components of a bomb he intended to assemble. The components included a pipe, two endcaps, serrated nails, and candle wicks. Cech then proceeded to instruct the informant how to assemble the bomb. During the recorded conversation, Cech told the informant how to handle gunpowder, how to physically put the bomb together, where to put the explosive gun powder, when to place the nails within the bomb, and how and where to drill the hole in the endcap to place the fuse into the bomb. Cech assured the informant that the bomb that he was demonstrating the assembly on would be functional, and that he had built 30 of them and all 30 had exploded as designed. Cech stated that he preferred that no kids were killed when the informant deployed the bomb because he liked kids, but Cech stated, “it is what it is.”

Judge Ambrose scheduled sentencing for January 8, 2013, at 10:00 a.m. The law provides for a total sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Pending sentencing, the court continued the defendant’s detention.

Assistant United States Attorney James T. Kitchen is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Cech.