Published On: Sun, Dec 16th, 2018

Justin Vangilder sentenced to 4 years for illegally possessing bomb making materials

Terre Haute, Indiana – United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler, announced today that Justin A. Vangilder, 29, of West Terre Haute, was recently sentenced in United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. On November 29, 2018, United States District Court Judge William T. Lawrence sentenced Vangilder to forty-two (42) months imprisonment following his pleas of guilty to one count of unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and one count of possession of an unregistered destructive device.

“The Office of the United States Attorney has devoted significant resources to combat the scourge of illegal firearms trafficking,” said Josh J. Minkler. “This prosecution is an example of judicious partnerships between federal and local law enforcement officers to stop criminal activity at its inception.”

photo Stefan Krause, Germany

This case stems from an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), West Terre Haute Police Department (WTHPD), and other state and local law enforcement agencies. On April 11, 2017, officers with the WTHPD received information that Vangilder, a convicted felon, was in possession of a firearm. When officers responded to Vangilder’s residence they met with his father who allowed WTHPD officers into the residence to recover the firearm, a Citadel 1911, .45-caliber handgun, with two loaded magazines. Upon further investigation, WTHPD officers discovered what appeared to be a bomb making lab in the defendant’s bedroom. WTHPD evacuated the home and called the bomb squad, who responded to the scene along with the FBI. Once the residence was declared safe, investigators found numerous components typically used to assemble destructive devices in Vangilder’s bedroom including a soldering iron, an assembled bomb-like device, timers, fireworks, unknown powders, PVC pipe, and three books detailing how to construct explosive devices.

During the course of the hearing on November 18, 2018, the Court heard testimony that the FBI searched Vangilder’s electronic devices and located several video files in which Vangilder can be seen testing electric and electronic detonation switches for destructive devices, including one switch linked to a key fob and another linked to an egg timer. In the videos, which were recorded in Vangilder’s bedroom, Vangilder can be seen igniting flash paper and various powders by operation of his homemade detonation switches.

According to Assistant United States Attorney Matthew J. Rinka, who prosecuted the case for the government, Vangilder was convicted in 2014 of possession of an unregistered destructive device in federal court in Illinois and was on federal supervised release at the time of his arrest in this case. In addition to pleading guilty to the charges in this case, Vangilder also pled guilty to violating the terms of his federal supervised release and Judge Lawrence sentenced him to a consecutive 10 month term of imprisonment for that offense.

This arrest enforces the Department of Justice’s Strategic goals of targeting the District’s most violent geographic areas for the adoption of reactive federal drug and firearm prosecutions. Priority will be given to defendants who can be charged by criminal complaint, detained, indicted, convicted, and sentenced to significant periods of incarceration. This expeditious approach should result in more firearm and drug prosecutions in the District. See United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Indiana Strategic Plan, Section 2.2

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