FBI testifies it has tied Ellicott City man to Va. bombs FBI agent says powder was found in suspect's car.

February 27, 1991|By Kelly Gilbert | Kelly Gilbert,Evening Sun Staff

The FBI has linked Charles E. Gresham Jr., through circumstantial evidence, to the two pipe bombs planted in a Norfolk, Va., chemical tank farm Feb. 4, according to testimony in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

Special Agent Jeffrey A. Lampinsky testified at a preliminary hearing late yesterday that the FBI found white explosive powder in the interior carpet and the trunk of Gresham's 1988 Jaguar.

The powder matched that contained in one of the unexploded bombs, the agent said.

Lampinsky said the powder could support a conclusion that Gresham, of Ellicott City, made and transported the bombs.

But the agent said Gresham's fingerprints were not on the devices, and the FBI does not know who actually planted the bombs.

Lampinsky testified that Gresham and co-defendant Cecil Ross denied participation in the bombing scheme, but said another co-defendant, Joseph Openshaw, told the FBI in Phoenix, Ariz., that the bombing scheme was Gresham's idea.

Gresham told FBI agents after his arrest earlier this month that Ross and Openshaw were "the driving forces" behind the plot and that "he argued against the plot to get the insurance" on chemicals that were to be destroyed, the agent testified.

Lampinsky also said the FBI has evidence that Gresham bought, in the Baltimore area, a battery like one of those used to energize the bomb devices.

After hearing nearly three hours of testimony from Lampinsky, Magistrate Judge Paul M. Rosenberg ordered Gresham turned over to federal authorities in Norfolk for further court proceedings there. Ross and Openshaw also are in federal custody.

Rosenberg said he is satisfied that there is probable cause to believe Gresham was involved in the alleged conspiracy.

The government contends that Gresham, Ross and Openshaw conspired to blow up the chemical tanks so Gresham could collect $2.7 million in insurance, and that Gresham promised to pay Ross and Openshaw $500,000 for the job. Gresham has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Earlier yesterday, Magistrate Judge Catherine C. Blake ruled that she would unseal government-edited copies of six sealed FBI affidavits submitted in support of search warrants for Gresham's home, car and other locations.

Blake denied defense attorney Joshua R. Treem access to unedited versions of the affidavits, which he said he needs to build Gresham's defense. Blake said such access "very likely would disrupt" the government's continuing investigation of the case.

Prosecutor Ira L. Oring said he was willing to give Treem edited copies of the affidavits after deleting specific references to evidence, the thrust of the investigation and the name of the confidential informant who tipped the FBI to the alleged plot.

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