Man gets 40 years for mailing bombs to CO, cop in revenge plot
Both the bombs exploded and injured those who opened them, but neither victim was the man's intended target
By Nate Gartrell
Bay Area News Group
OAKLAND, Calif. — A Bay Area man was sentenced Thursday to 40 years in federal prison for making homemade bombs and mailing them to law enforcement, resulting two people being injured in explosions.
Ross Gordon Laverty, 61, was convicted in 2020 of mailing bombs to a retired Alameda officer and a corrections officer. Both the bombs exploded and injured those who opened them, but neither victim was Laverty’s intended target, according to authorities.
In one case, a bomb injured a person who simply shared the same name as Laverty’s target and was misidentified. In another case, the retired sergeant’s wife opened a package and threw the bomb just before it blew up.
Both bombs were sent in 2017. Prosecutors say Laverty researched things like “deadliest booby traps ever created” as well as his intended victims’ homes.
U.S. District Judge William Orrick handed down the sentence Thursday afternoon.
“My heart goes out to the innocent victims of these horrific acts,” Northern California U.S. Attorney Stephanie Hinds said in a news release. “Ross Laverty not only injured the victims, he put mail carriers and handlers and numerous others at risk of serious injury and death. The public must be protected from such reckless, violent crimes.”
At trial, prosecutors said Laverty was motivated by revenge. He was angry that the corrections officer strip-searched him at the San Mateo county jail, and he was mad the retired sergeant conducted a 2013 probation search of his home.
The bombs were designed with a toggle switch designed to injure or kill the victim with a nickel, which was designed to explode toward whoever opened the package. One of the victims still suffers from his injuries, prosecutors said in a sentencing memo.
One of the packages had the words “Justicia Boyz” written in graffiti-style lettering, which authorities have chalked up as an attempt to blame the bombing on a nonexistent gang.
In both instances, someone else ended up setting off the bombs, which Laverty rigged into packages and sent in the mail. In one case, he sent the bomb to a man that simply had the same name as the corrections officer; that person suffered injuries to his hand, abdomen, and eardrums, prosecutors said.
The second bomb, sent to Berkeley, exploded when the retired sergeant’s wife cut it open. But as she was opening it, she saw wires sticking out of the package, threw it to the ground, and as a result escaped serious injury, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors argued for a 40-year prison term at a minimum, but said Laverty deserved as much as 60 years. In court records they compared him to other notable bombing defendants, like Ted Kaczynski the Unabomber.
Laverty’s attorney, David Cohen, argued for a 30-year prison term, writing in a sentencing memo that Laverty suffered from chronic schizophrenia, and arguing there was no evidence he intended to kill anyone. He included support letters on Laverty’s behalf from family and friends.
“Ross is a very loving and kind person and will do anything to help others in need, and his inherent character is not that of a criminal,” his sister wrote in a letter to Orrick. “He has struggled with mental health issues for a number of years, but has no history of violence or harming others.”
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