Home Sacramento Press Releases 2010 Federal Courthouse Bomb Suspect Pleads Guilty

Federal Courthouse Bomb Suspect Pleads Guilty

U.S. Attorney’s Office January 15, 2010
  • Eastern District of California (916) 554-2700

SACRAMENTO—United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced today that MATTHEW FRATICELLI, 31, of south Sacramento, entered a guilty plea today to a charge of possession of an unregistered destructive device. The guilty plea was taken from the defendant in federal court in Sacramento by United States District Judge Edward J. Garcia.

This case is the product of an extensive/joint investigation by the FBI, ATF, Sacramento Police Department Bomb Squad, and the Federal Protective Service.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard J. Bender, who is prosecuting the case, on May 18, 2009, at approximately 4:00 a.m., a security guard at the U.S. Courthouse in Sacramento noticed a suspicious brown bag outside the guard kiosk. The security guard looked inside and saw what appeared to be a bomb. He summoned law enforcement authorities and they discovered a device which consisted of two main parts: a 5 liter metal keg containing approximately one gallon of gasoline, and a plastic pill bottle containing explosive powder and a fuse, taped to the side of the keg. Written on the side of the keg in magic marker was the word “Fraticelli.”

Law enforcement officials reviewed the video surveillance tapes and were ultimately able to conclude that the defendant placed the bag with the device outside the courthouse. FRATICELLI was arrested on May 20, 2009, and admitted building incendiary devices. As to the device at the Courthouse, he said that he had purchased the mini-keg a few months prior and, after drinking its contents, he kept it to make an incendiary device. He admitted that he had scouted the area around the federal courthouse approximately one month earlier, although he stated that he had no particular motive or grudge against the federal government or law enforcement or anybody inside the Courthouse. FRATICELLI admitted assembling the device on May 16, 2009; he said that while building it he noticed that his name was written on the side and he decided to cover that up with black tape—but he forgot to do that. When he was finished he placed the keg in a brown shopping bag. FRATICELLI said that later that evening he placed the device outside the U.S. Courthouse, although he did not light the fuse.

The maximum statutory penalty for a violation of possession of an unregistered destructive device is ten years in prison, however the actual sentence will be dictated by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines and statutory sentencing factors, and will be imposed at the discretion of the court.