DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Eastern District of California

For Immediate Release

Friday, June 19, 2015
Benjamin B. Wagner
, United States Attorney
Contact: Lauren Horwood

Yuba City Resident Sentenced to Nearly Six Years in Prison for Possessing an Improvised Explosive Device

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Michael Frederick Hesse, 35, of Yuba City, was sentenced on Tuesday, June 16, 2015, by United States District Judge John A. Mendez to five years and 10 months in prison for possession of an unregistered destructive device, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

According to court documents, on September 14, 2012, at approximately 10:00 p.m., a California Highway Patrol officer attempted to stop a minivan for a broken headlight. The driver of the minivan did not yield to the officer and sped away, causing a chase during which he committed numerous traffic violations before crashing into a ditch.

After the crash, the driver and sole occupant of the vehicle, Hesse, threw a gray bag out of the minivan. Officers found the gray bag, which contained a loaded shotgun protruding from it. The shotgun was sawed off at the stock, but not the barrel, and some of the ammunition was modified by replacing the pellets with dimes.

Yuba City Police Officers searched the minivan for additional weapons. They found a green camouflage tactical vest with ballistic trauma plates, hypodermic needles, a coffee can containing black powder, and what appeared to be an explosive device with marbles taped to the outside. After finding the suspected destructive device, officers evacuated nearby homes and called the Beale Air Force Explosive Ordinance Disposal Team. A total of three explosive devices were found in the minivan. Each device was an improvised explosive device fabricated from a CO2 cartridge containing double base smokeless powder and a fusing mechanism with marbles affixed to the exterior, primarily with duct tape. Investigators also found chemicals, switches and wires, and one explosive charge for a vehicle airbag. Hesse, a convicted felon, was prohibited from possessing firearms or destructive devices.

“ATF takes unlawfully possessing an explosive device very serious,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Eric D. Harden, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. “This case is a reflection of the excellent collaborative effort between the ATF, Yuba City Police Department, CHP, Beale Air Force Explosive Ordinance Disposal Team and the United States Attorney’s Office.”

This case was the product of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and originated out of an investigation by the CHP and the Yuba City Police Department, with assistance from the Beale Air Force Explosive Ordinance Disposal Team. Assistant United States Attorneys Michael Anderson and Nirav Desai prosecuted the case.

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Field Division: San Francisco Field Division