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Man accused of having bomb-making materials enters Alford plea

Bryan Matthew Piper sentenced to eight years in prison, with all but 1 year suspended

September 23, 2010|By DON AINES
  • Bryan Matthew Piper
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A suspected motorcycle gang member accused of having hollowed-out grenades and other bomb-making materials in his home entered an Alford plea Thursday in Washington County Circuit Court to one count of possession of explosive or incendiary materials with intent to make a destructive device.

Judge Daniel P. Dwyer sentenced Bryan Matthew Piper to eight years in state prison, suspending all but one year, which he ordered Piper to serve in the Washington County Detention Center. Dwyer gave Piper credit for time served since his March 1 arrest.

Piper, 37, who lived at 18912 Artillery Drive south of Hagerstown, will be on probation for three years following his release from prison. Dwyer authorized a state fire marshal to accompany probation officials for inspections of Piper's home to ensure he does not possess explosive materials.

An Alford plea is not an admission of guilt, but an acknowledgment by a defendant that the state has sufficient evidence to secure a conviction. In exchange for the plea, four other counts of possessing explosive materials to make a destructive device were dismissed, Assistant State's Attorney Gina Cirincion said.

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Cirincion provided the court a list of chemicals that Piper should not be allowed to have in his home.

On March 1, Deputy State Fire Marshal Edward L. Ernst assisted with a search of Piper's home on information that he possessed bomb-making materials, according to the statement of probable cause filed by Ernst. Piper was a member of the Sons of the North motorcycle gang with "known ties to the Pagans Motorcycle gang," the statement said.

"It is common practice that the Pagans use smaller motorcycle gangs to commit criminal acts in the name of the gang" and that the Pagans are known to use explosive devices as part of their criminal activities, the statement of probable cause said.

Eight empty containers of potassium nitrate were found in the dining room, along with a kitchen scale and traces of sulfur, the statement of probable cause said. In the pantry, the search turned up the nine hollow grenades with their firing mechanisms and pins; various lengths of pipe and pipe caps; four bags of sulfur and six bottles of potassium nitrate; and four containers of BBs "commonly used as shrapnel in explosive devices," the statement said.

Also found were two four-quart containers, one used to store potassium nitrate and the other for sulfur, the statement of probable cause said. Literature on making bombs and Napalm were found in a closet, along with two 1-pound cans of black powder, the statement said.

"The items found in his home were items he grew up around" on a farm, defense attorney Andrea Chee-a-tow told Dwyer. "Mr. Piper had absolutely no intention of building an explosive device or hurting anyone."

Piper had no criminal record before the charges were filed, Chee-a-tow said.

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