Gresham ordered to face bomb plot charges in Va.

February 27, 1991|By Sheridan Lyons

A federal magistrate ruled last night that there was sufficient evidence to send Charles Edward Gresham Jr. to Virginia to face charges of conspiring to have pipe bombs planted at a tank farm in Norfolk, where he had stored a heavily insured but apparently worthless chemical.

"The court is satisfied that the evidence is more than sufficient to find probable cause that the defendant committed the crime charged in the complaint," said U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul M. Rosenberg. He noted statements by two co-defendants and by an FBI informant, who said Mr. Gresham attempted to enlist him in the same scheme last year and complained of the mounting storagefees on 2.2 million gallons of sodium hydrosulfide that he had been unable to sell.

The only witness at yesterday's hearing was FBI Agent Jeffrey A. Lampinski, who is supervising the Norfolk-based investigation that has led to the arrest of Mr. Gresham in Ellicott City and two alleged co-conspirators in Arizona. A grand jury in Norfolk is hearing testimony but hasn't handed up any indictments.

Defense attorney Joshua R. Treem argued that federal prosecutors had no evidence against his client other than a belated statement by one co-defendant, Joseph W. Openshaw, who initially denied any conspiracy, as have Mr. Gresham and co-defendant Cecil Ross.

The case began when two clusters of pipe bombs were discoveredFeb. 4 at the Allied Terminals Inc. facility in a populated industrial area of Norfolk. Prosecutors said a bomb attached to a tank of methanol was intended to cause an explosion that would destroy the less volatile sodium hydrosulfide, where a second cluster of bombs also was placed, and could have caused casualties, property damage and contamination of the air and water.

Agent Lampinksi said yesterday that vacuum sweepings from a search of Mr. Gresham's 1988 Jaguar found powder identical to that used in the Norfolk pipe bombs, but that none of three useable fingerprints on the bombs was from Mr. Gresham.

The prints haven't been matched yet, Agent Lampinski said.

The two Arizona men also have had preliminary hearings and have been ordered transported to Norfolk, he said.

Judge Rosenberg said he would sign the order to transport Mr. Gresham today.

Mr. Gresham, 57, of the 3800 block of Spring Meadow Drive in Ellicott City is a former college professor and president of Applied Technology Inc.

He has been jailed since his arrest Feb. 9, after Judge Rosenberg ruled that the government's strong case and Mr. Gresham's international contacts made it likely he would flee, despite his family and other strong ties to the community.

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