DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Middle District of Florida

For Immediate Release

Friday, December 5, 2014
A. Lee Bentley, III
, United States Attorney
Contact: William Daniels

Leader of "River Otter Preppers" Sentenced

Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge Virginia M. Hernandez Covington has sentenced Martin Howard Winters (55, Valrico), the leader of the River Otter Preppers organization, to 30 months’ imprisonment for manufacturing and possessing destructive devices.  He pleaded guilty on August 28, 2014. 

On November 20, 2014, Winters’s co-defendant, Michael Keith Bonta (50, Valrico), was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for making the destructive devices for Winters.  He pleaded guilty on September 2, 2014. 

According to testimony and court documents, Winters designed the destructive devices and directed Bonta to manufacture them according to Winters’s specifications.  The devices have been described as booby traps operated with a tripwire that project pellets from a 12-gauge shotgun shell.  Bonta admitted to having made approximately 20 of the devices for Winters.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the United States Marshals Service.  It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Donald L. Hansen.


Tampa Field Division