Man gets 7 years for mailing bomb to 'Sheriff Joe'
Mailed an inoperable homemade bomb to Ariz. sheriff in a plot to frame a former business partner
By Jacques Billeaud
PHOENIX — An Oklahoma man was sentenced Tuesday to seven years in prison for his conviction on charges of mailing an inoperable homemade bomb to an Arizona sheriff in a plot to frame a former business partner.
U.S. District Judge Neil Wake said the vendetta carried out by Gregory Lynn Shrader of Jay, Oklahoma, against a former partner was a calculated act of evil. "You are a dangerous, vindictive, hateful person," Wake said. He declined, though, to impose the nearly eight-year prison sentence sought by prosecutors.
Authorities say Shrader, 56, wasn't motivated by animosity toward Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and instead sent the bomb in hopes of framing his former partner in a financial trading books business by listing the former partner's name on the return address.
The business relationship had soured after the partner refused to publish a book because the partner believed the material may have been published previously by another author. Shrader filed unsuccessful lawsuits against his partner and had made previous attempts to wrongfully implicate the former partner in criminal conduct, prosecutors said.
Prosecutor Raymond Woo said Shrader had committed a terrorist act by mailing the bomb.
Shrader looked squarely at the judge as the sentence was handed down and declined a chance to make a statement before his punishment was announced. His attorney Robert Newcomb cited favorable letters written to the court about Shrader.
A jury convicted Shrader in September on charges of making a threat by means of explosive material, transporting explosive material, mailing an injurious item and possession of explosive materials by a felon.
Prosecutors alleged Shrader addressed the parcel to Arpaio and put his former partner's name as the return address on the package that was dropped off in April 2013 at a U.S. Postal Service collection-box unit in Flagstaff.
Investigators say Shrader drove with a relative from his home state to Arizona to put the bomb in the collection-box unit and that Shrader was driven by a need for revenge against his former partner. The former partner had denied sending the package.
The package was spotted by a postal employee who became suspicious after noticing the parcel had excessive stamps and a typewritten address label. Postal inspectors saw a silver grain-like material spilling out from the parcel's seams that was later determined to be explosive smokeless powder.
Arpaio, who has had a security detail for years and said he regularly receives threats, wasn't called to testify at trial and wasn't present at the sentencing hearing.
The judge said both Arpaio and Shrader's former business partner were victims.
Arpaio said in a statement that he was grateful that the investigation led to Shrader's conviction and prison sentence.
Authorities eventually determined the bomb was inoperable, though black power inside the parcel could have exploded or ignited in a flash fire.
Police disabled the bomb with a water cannon.
Authorities say a woman told them that she drove with Shrader to northern Arizona and saw him wearing surgical gloves and place the parcel into the mailbox.
The FBI said it found a document during the search of Shrader's home that closely resembles the return address of the parcel.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press