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Teen Bomb-Maker Pleads Guilty to Weapons Charge in Nevada

By Bill Morlin on September 20, 2013 - 2:51 pm, Posted in Antigovernment, Militias

A self-styled militia leader in Nevada who set off homemade bombs in the Arizona desert and bragged about wanting “to go to a nursery school and use kids for target practice” has pleaded guilty to a federal firearms violation.

Steven Matthew Fernandes, 19, who said he was a member of the Southern Nevada Militia when he was arrested by the FBI in September 2012, pleaded guilty this week in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas to possession of an unregistered firearm.

Two other federal charges he was facing – illegally making firearms and transportation of explosive material – are expected to be dismissed as part of a plea agreement with federal prosecutors. They are expected to recommend an 18-month sentence when Fernandes is sentenced in December. The charge carries a maximum of 10 years and a $10,000 fine.

The plea agreement says on Sept. 13, 2012, and prior to that, Fernandes possessed and made destructive devices containing explosive materials at his house in Las Vegas. The defendant also possessed parts and materials that “could be readily assembled” into illegal explosive devices in violation of federal law, the public document says.

At the time of his arrest, FBI agents said they recovered five rifles, four handguns and “thousands of rounds of ammunition,” along with an array of bomb-building materials and instructions” from the suspect’s bedroom in a house where he lived with his divorced mother. She had installed a dead bolt on the room, apparently to keep the suspect’s two younger sisters away from the arsenal he had amassed.

His familiarity with firearms, court document says, stemmed from his involvement with a Boy Scout law enforcement “Explorer Post.” Fernandes, who claimed he had made at least 69 pipe bombs and talked about building poisonous chlorine gas bombs, used a “special purchasing code” from his high school to buy restricted chemicals from suppliers, the document says.

In entering his guilty plea this week, Fernandes confessed to transporting his homemade bombs in Nevada, Utah and Arizona, where he detonated the devices.

Prosecutors said a confidential source provided the FBI with an e-mail from Fernandes in which he “described himself as the commanding officer of the 327th Nevada Militia, an urban survivalist unit with six or seven members,” the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

His defense attorney, Crystal Eller, said a psychiatric evaluation proved Fernandes was not a threat to himself or the community. She contended her client, who was scheduled to join the U.S. Marines two days before his arrested, “was regarded as a “very responsible and grounded teenager,” the newspaper reported.

“This is someone who sees himself as a fighter for this country, not a terrorist,” Eller told the Las Vegas newspaper.

His plea came after the June guilty plea of Fernandes’ friend, Jake Howell, to a gross misdemeanor charge of possession of a dangerous weapon on school property.

After a shooting spree at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., in July 2012, that left 12 people dead and 58 others injured, Fernandes boasted, “I’ll beat that record,’’ other court documents say. Fernandes also boasted that his high school classmates in Las Vegas considered him “most likely to show up to school and just start killing people.”

  • MRJ

    Oops… should read: “that they”, and “man”.
    My fault.

  • MRJ

    “I’ll beat that record.”

    Once upon a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, ownership, or even manufacturing “pipe bombs” was considered a misdemeanor. A “boys will be boys” kind of Darwin Awards test of manhood. Even the US Department of the Interior, or Forestry, what have you, were providing pamphlets to farmers, etc. with instructions on how to use ammonium nitrate fertilizer and fuel oil to blast craters and create ponds for ducks, drain wet areas, etc..
    Heck, you could even buy dynamite at the hardware store presuming that you could prove that that wolf tree stump in the middle of the field needed to go: tractors having replaced the mules or horses that pulled plows that were grateful for that old shade tree around lunch time.

    Then came Kosinsky, and suddenly the ownership of a manufactured “device” was a Major Federal offence.
    Many people, who just liked to see dirt jump and hear a bang, were caught up in this and charged with major Federal violations they knew absolutely nothing about.
    That in no way makes them a “Turrurist”.
    Then came McVeigh, who probably got his hands on a copy of one of those extremely detailed pamphlets regarding the manufacture of such explosives provided by the US Government for the price of return postage, and copied and handed out like candy at “militia” meetings.
    Let alone the “Anarchists Cookbook”, which is still around in various guises.
    I know a “cousin” who has even tried to give me both of these publications, once as a teen, and also in 2006/7: I told him to get lumped.
    If Law Enforcement want’s to know who that “man: is, they should contact me.

    Once, long ago… blah, blah, blah… there was an aircraft flying over Lockerbie, which came raining down in an grisly and horrific example of what “International Terrorism” actually means.
    Like the Lusitania, a turning point as a handful of Americans were involved… but I digress.
    Youths in a high school in Bethesda, MD, a Walt Whitman, being part of the chemistry club and “A” students in that august educational institution with fantastic futures ahead of them, bragged about, and then decided to “prove” that could build a similar thing with more power.
    The resulting blast in their basement, or garage at 2:30 or 3:00 in the morning, (which ever: it’s been awhile), woke the neighborhood, and as I recall, seriously maimed or killed one or more of them.

    “Little Willie was a Chemist, but he is no more, for what he thought was stable, blew him through the door.”

    Talking about it or knowing how, and making threats compiled with the actual fabrication and testing of such things, are two very, very different things.
    Any person that lives in a rural community can buy cannon fuse and black powder at the local hardware store, and black powder, ounce for ounce, has more brisiliant force than dynamite.
    Although Pyrodex has replaced black powder in most contemporary muzzle loading firearms (a controlled burn as opposed to wholesale detonation), the “reenactment” groups still use it as it’s “historically accurate”.
    Lift the lid on “reenactment” groups, particularly American Civil War groups, and you’ll find bunches of nuts glorifying “living in the past”, and quite capable of mayhem under their Confederate Battle flags.
    But we know this.
    $.02

  • DrMJG

    DanZ

    My question to you is given the evidence that he was gathering these legal materials combined with evidence of is threats, why would the authorities NOT stop a plot before it fully comes to fruition? I think giving him a get out of jail free card because you feel that the second amendment includes bomb parts is just a little off. If you are arrested for bomb creation then, yes, your guns are lost as well.

    If he was so benign, why did his mom feel the need to dead bold the room?

    Sorry, his arrest was not only good but necessary.

  • PostIndustrial02

    DanZ

    If you didn’t notice, it did say what he was facing: 10 years and $10,000 fine. He’s admitted to building bombs, and possession of bomb-making materials is a crime. Deal with it.

    On another note, why do these fascists keep stockpiling weapons when you can only fire one rifle at a time? They got to know that they are just setting themselves up for a raid.

  • concernedcitizen

    Well yes Jake it is time to make sure that homegrown terrorists are treated no differently than any enemy combatant.

  • Sam Molloy

    Dan, it seems to me that Law Enforcement got this right, and just in time to stop another senseless tragedy. To me they are to be congratulated, not criticized.

  • Reynardine

    Jake: white and Muslim are not mutually exclusive categories.

    Dan: There was certainly probable cause to charge him. I presume he pled on advice of counsel. Federal defenders are generally several notches above those who work for states, and likely he was told he was grasped by the beebees. He’s not going to be in the juzgado that long. He’ll have plenty of time to kill people after he gets out.

  • Jake

    Wow!! If he was a Muslim, he would be in GITMO by now. Time to treat all terrorists, White or Muslim equally.

  • Dan Zabetakis

    So is this what the war on terror has come to? Prosecuting teenagers who make up lies and like things that go boom.

    Did he plead to this charge because (and only because) they were threatening him with a life sentence or worse?

    There are a lot of things wrong with this report:

    ” The defendant also possessed parts and materials that “could be readily assembled” into illegal explosive devices in violation of federal law, the public document says.”

    Notice that it doesn’t say he possessed an actual bomb.

    ” FBI agents said they recovered five rifles, four handguns and “thousands of rounds of ammunition,””

    Notice that they don’t say these guns were possessed illegally.

    ” She had installed a dead bolt on the room, apparently to keep the suspect’s two younger sisters away from the arsenal he had amassed.”

    Obviously a reasonable safety measure.

    “His familiarity with firearms, court document says, stemmed from his involvement with a Boy Scout law enforcement “Explorer Post.” ”

    …in other words, perfectly legitimate.

    ” Fernandes, who claimed he had made at least 69 pipe bombs and talked about building poisonous chlorine gas bombs”

    Notice that they don’t say he actually did do this.

    “Prosecutors said a confidential source provided the FBI with…”

    In other words an undercover agent.

    “…an e-mail from Fernandes in which he “described himself as the commanding officer of the 327th Nevada Militia, an urban survivalist unit with six or seven members,” ”

    Notice that they don’t say that this organization actually exists or existed.

    DanZ

  • Kiwiwriter

    This guy is an overheated and extremely stupid teenager.

    18 months in federal lockup will change his behavior, both for the better — and the worse.

    He planned to beat the Aurora shooter’s record. This is what saddens me the most about these mass killings. Every time we have one, there’s always another guy standing there, watching the horror on TV, saying to himself and other people, “I can kill more people than that.”

    And then they go out to do just that, thinking they are writing their names in history’s pages of glory.

    What’s worse?

    They do. We remember the killers, not the victims. John Wayne Gacy, Richard Speck, Jeffrey Dahmer, James Holmes, Adam Lanza, the Son of Sam, Charles Whitman, Charlie Manson, Ted Bundy, they all roll off the tongue.

    Name their victims.