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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Western District of Michigan
Mark A. Totten, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Kalkaska Man Pleads Guilty to Possession of Pipe Bombs

KALAMAZOO – U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Mark Totten announced that Terrence Wayne Vanochten, 56, pleaded guilty to a federal charge of possessing unregistered destructive devices, namely three pipe bombs.

“Today’s plea agreement demonstrates our ongoing commitment to protect the public from people who unlawfully possess destructive devices,” said U.S. Attorney Mark Totten. “Vanochten possessed these pipe bombs in clear violation of federal law, and I am grateful to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Kalkaska County Sheriff’s Office for their careful work.”

According to court documents, on August 17, 2022, Kalkaska Sheriff’s Deputies responded to Vanochten’s residence after receiving a report that he was firing a semiautomatic weapon from the home. After finding what initially appeared to be a fully automatic rifle, authorities obtained a search warrant and found three pipe bombs in an ammunition can in his home. The bombs were constructed from sections of metal pipe with screwed-on metal end caps. One end of each bomb was drilled to allow the insertion of fuse cord, a length of which Vanochten kept in the ammunition can with the bombs. When subjected to laboratory testing, the powder and fuses rapidly burned as designed. If detonated, the devices could kill, maim, or injure people through the projection of shrapnel.

Vanochten pleaded guilty today to possessing an unregistered destructive device in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 5861(d), which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. As part of his plea agreement, Vanochten will forfeit the bombs, as well as a projectile launcher attached to one of his AR-15 type rifles. The launcher also qualified as an unregistered destructive device. As a result of today’s conviction, Vanochten cannot legally possess a firearm or ammunition again. U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney has scheduled Vanochten’s sentencing for October 4, 2023, in Kalamazoo.

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nils Kessler is prosecuting the case.

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