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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

District of Idaho

For Immediate Release

August 9, 2011

Wendy J. Olson, United States Attorney

Contact: Pamela Bearg, Public Information Officer
(208) 667-6568

Kamiah Man Sentenced to 25 Years for Explosives and Stalking

COEUR D’ALENE – Levi Wayne Mendenhall, 31, of Kamiah, Idaho, was sentenced today to 25 years in federal prison for transporting explosives with intent to kill, injure, or intimidate, stalking, and use of explosive material during the commission of a federal felony, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced. U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge also ordered Mendenhall to serve three years of supervised release following his prison term. Mendenhall pleaded guilty to the charge on May 17, 2011.

According to court documents, between August 28 and September 4, 2009, Mendenhall purchased components to construct a destructive device from stores located in northeastern Washington. He constructed the destructive device out of three-inch plastic pipe and filled the pipe with a mixture of explosive powder, razor blades and BB’s. Mendenhall then wired the device to a battery and placed the device inside a box. He set the device to trigger an explosion when an item was removed from the box. On September 4, 2009, Mendenhall rented a car in Omak, Washington, and transported the device to Kamiah, Idaho. After arriving in Kamiah, he placed the box containing the destructive device on the hood of a car located at a house where his wife, from whom he was separated, was staying. The next morning, the homeowner found the box on her car, opened it, and became suspicious when she saw wires. The Kamiah Marshal was contacted. He removed the box to a safe location, and contacted the Spokane Bomb Squad, who disarmed the device a few hours later.

ATF agents obtained a federal search warrant for Mendenhall’s residence in Omak, Washington. They recovered explosive powder matching the explosive powder used in the destructive device, and a receipt containing two of the components used to make the destructive device. ATF agents later obtained video of Mendenhall purchasing the components at the four stores in Washington state. Federal agents also located rental car records proving that Mendenhall had rented a car in Omak the day before the device was placed on the car in Kamiah, Idaho, and returned it to the rental car company the following day. The rental car’s mileage was consistent with a roundtrip to Kamiah. One of Mendenhall’s fingerprints was found on the outside of the box that held the destructive device.

During the sentencing hearing, Judge Lodge called Mendenhall’s conduct an atrocious criminal attempt on the lives of others that can’t be tolerated. He noted that the case called for serious incarceration for the protection of others and society.

This defendant’s conduct endangered many lives, said Olson. Today’s sentencing ensures that he will not pose a danger to his ex-wife or any other person for a very long time. I commend the awareness of the civilian and law enforcement personnel who quickly recognized the potential danger from this sinister device and ensured that it could be properly disposed of. The serious nature of this case cannot be understated, said Kelvin Crenshaw, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF Seattle Field Division. The lives of both the public and law enforcement were placed in danger by Mr. Mendenhall and we are grateful that no one was ultimately injured or killed by his despicable behavior and actions.

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The ATF’s investigation was assisted by law enforcement officers with the Spokane Bomb Squad, Kamiah Marshal, Idaho State Police, Colville Tribal Police Department, Grand Coulee Police Department, Okanagan County Sheriff’s Office, Airway Heights (Washington) Police Department, and Washington State Department of Corrections.