Breckenridge Texan

Breckenridge man to plead guilty in pipe bomb case

May 03
18:10 2018

A Breckenridge man has agreed to plead guilty to one count of Possession of an Unregistered Firearm in a case stemming from an arrest for possession of a pipe bomb in Breckenridge, according to documents filed in the U.S. District Court in Abilene on Tuesday, May 1.

According to the plea agreement, John Devin Diaz, 27 of Breckenridge, waived his right to a trial by jury, as well as to other rights regarding the case. Diaz’s attorney was not available for comment on Wednesday or Thursday when the Breckenridge Texan called his office, and he did not return calls.

John Devin Diaz

Diaz remains in custody and is being detained without bond at the government’s request, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Juanita Fielden.

“We had a detention hearing, and the judge granted the government’s motion to detain,” she said.

A rearraignment has been scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 15, in the Federal Courtroom in Abilene.

Fielden said a pre-sentence report will be done for Diaz by the probation department and the case will then be set for a sentencing at a later date. For sentencing, she said, Diaz will appear before Senior District Judge Sam R. Cummings in Lubbock, who will decide on his sentence.

She said that when a plea agreement is negotiated with a defendant in a federal court case, the defendant is not promised a reduced sentence, as can be done in state courts. The defendant agrees to plead guilty and the judge makes the decision on the sentencing. Those terms are listed in the agreement.

According to the plea agreement, the maximum punishment that Diaz can receive includes 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and supervised release of up to three years.

Court documents filed on Tuesday explain that in order to prove the offense, the government would had to have proved that Diaz knowingly possessed the pipe bomb, that he knew the characteristics of the “destructive device,” that the pipe bomb was or could readily have been put in operating condition and that it was not registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record.

Diaz’s case began when, according to court documents, he was stopped by a Breckenridge police officer for a traffic violation on Nov. 27, 2017. The driver of the vehicle was identified by police as John Devin Diaz, who had an outstanding municipal warrant at the time, for which he was originally detained.

The “Factual Resume” document filed in the district court on Tuesday also stated that Diaz’s vehicle had a fictitious registration sticker and the BPD officer detected the strong odor of marijuana emitting from the vehicle. Officers searched Diaz’s vehicle and found what appeared to be a pipe bomb in the glove compartment.

Then, according to the documents, on Nov. 28, special agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) interviewed Diaz. The report states that he told the agents a friend gave him the pipe bomb about three weeks earlier. Diaz said he asked the friend, who is identified as S.D. in the court documents, if it was a real pipe bomb and the friend said that it was. The report states that Diaz said that he put the pipe bomb in his glove box and locked it and had no intention of harming anyone with it.

On that same day, according to the documents, ATF agents also interviewed the friend and he denied having any knowledge of a pipe bomb.

Special Agent Meredith K. Davis, a Public Information Officer with the ATF Dallas Field Division, said the device was sent to a lab for analysis, where it was confirmed to be a what is commonly referred to as a “pipe bomb,” according to Diaz’s indictment.

Court documents said an ATF Explosive Enforcement Officer analyzed the suspected pipe bomb and determined the device was, in fact, “an explosive bomb, commonly known as a pipe bomb,” and met the definition of a “destructive device” under 26 U.S. C. 5845(f) and the definition of a “firearm” under 26 U.S. C. 5845(a)(8). The document also said the ATF Explosive Enforcement Officer determined that the pipe bomb was, or could readily have been put in, operating condition.

In another court document, “Declaration of Administrative Forfeiture,” the device is described as a destructive device, including two end caps and pipe; it also lists two samples of black powder – low explosive, and a green hobby fuse from an unknown low explosive device. Fielden said that she wasn’t sure of the exact material the pipe was made from but that, according to testimony, it was not made from PVC or plastic pipe.

Diaz was indicted on March 21 by a Grand Jury in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas-Abilene Division on the charge of Possession of an Unregistered Firearm.

Then on Friday, April 13, Diaz was arrested by the Breckenridge Police Department on a charge of failure to display a registration sticker, as well as on a warrant for a prohibitive weapon by the ATF. On Tuesday, April 17, he was transferred by U.S. Marshals to the Taylor County Jail in Abilene, where he remains in custody.

Click here to read the Breckenridge Texan’s original article on this case.


Story by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan

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