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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Eastern District of Washington

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Michael C. Ormsby, United States Attorney

Contact: Thomas Rice, First Assistant U.S. Attorney
(509) 353-2767

Attempted Bomber Pleads Guilty to Federal Hate Crime and Weapons Charges

Spokane – Today, Michael C. Ormsby, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that Kevin William Harpham, age 37, of Colville, Washington, has pleaded guilty to the placement of the improvised explosive device alongside the planned Martin Luther King Jr. Day Unity March on January 17, 2011, in Spokane, Washington.

On March 9, 2011, Kevin Harpham was arrested and charged by complaint with the crimes of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and possession of an unregistered explosive device. Today, Kevin Harpham pleaded guilty to two counts of a superseding indictment; attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempt to cause bodily injury with an explosive device because of actual or perceived race, color and national origin of any person. The Martin Luther King Jr. Day Unity March was attended by hundreds of individuals, including racial minorities. The explosive device placed by Mr. Harpham was capable of inflicting serious injury or death, according to laboratory analysis conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The plea agreement calls for a sentence of between twenty-seven and thirty-two years in prison. The plea agreement is subject to the District Court's review, acceptance, and determination of the final sentence. The plea agreement also calls for a lifetime term of court supervision after Kevin Harpham is released from prison.

Michael C. Ormsby, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, said, I commend the law enforcement efforts at all phases of the investigation and prosecution of this matter. This was one of the most thorough investigations that I have ever seen and involved multi-levels of law enforcement and multiple offices and other professionals. Our office received significant assistance from the Civil Rights Division and National Security Division of the Justice Department. All who participated should be thanked and congratulated, this was truly a team effort.

Today’s guilty plea highlights the threat posed by hate-motivated violence. I applaud the federal, state, and local officials who work tirelessly to identify, confront, and defeat such threats, including the law enforcement officials who are responsible for the outstanding investigation in this case, said Lisa Monaco, Assistant Attorney General for National Security.

Hate-fueled incidents like this one have no place in a civilized society, said Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Thomas Perez. Thankfully no one was injured by this man’s depraved act. The Justice Department is committed to using all the tools in our law enforcement arsenal, including the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, to prosecute acts motivated by hate.

The placement of an explosive device in a crowded public area is horrific at any time, but this attack, planned to occur during an event celebrating the bonds of our community, make it all the more reprehensible, said Laura M. Laughlin, Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI Seattle office. No attack on innocent people will be ever be tolerated, and the FBI and its local, state and federal law enforcement partners will continue to tirelessly pursue and rapidly apprehend those who seek to express their hatred though violence.

This investigation was conducted by the Inland Northwest Joint Terrorism Task Force (INJTTF) comprised of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Federal Air Marshal Service, the U.S. Border Patrol, the Department of Homeland Security – Homeland Security Investigations, the Spokane Police Department, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, and the Washington State Patrol, and with assistance from Stevens County Sheriff’s Office and Washington State Employment Security Department. The Stevens County Road Department also provided significant assistance.