ELK RIVER (AP) -- An Elk River man has pleaded guilty to three counts of terroristic threats for sending fake bombs to Sherburne and Wright county government offices.
Under terms of a plea agreement, Richard Alan VanPatten, 40, will face no charges for three telephone bomb threats in January 1999 to Stearns County Social Services and the Stearns County courthouse and for bomb threats in Anoka County.
Under the agreement, VanPatten faces 38 to 42 months in prison. No sentencing date has been set.
VanPatten was suspected of making as many as 14 bomb threats from Dec. 11, 1998, to Jan. 21, 1999, directed at Sherburne, Stearns, Wright and Anoka county buildings, authorities said.
The first call was to Sherburne County officials on Dec. 11, 1998, the same day that a natural gas explosion in downtown St. Cloud killed four and injured more than a dozen people.
VanPatten admitted that he sent two fake bombs through a courier service on Jan. 21, 1999, one to Sherburne County offices, the other to Wright County offices.
The fake bombs were delivered the same day VanPatten was to be sentenced on fifth-degree controlled substance and aggravated forgery charges. He did not show up for sentencing.
At his plea hearing, VanPatten said he made the first call to Sherburne County "to slow the court system down."
The fake bombs he sent more than a month after the first threat were "to terrorize the courts," VanPatten said.
He said he was angry with the legal system and his defense attorney because of a fifth-degree controlled substance conviction.
William Brost, assistant Stearns County attorney, said it was not as vital to pursue charges in Stearns County as long as VanPatten was sent to prison for the threats in Sherburne and Wright counties.
VanPatten was arrested Jan. 21, 1999, after the Sherburne bogus bomb was delivered. In a search of his vehicle, investigators found 9-volt batteries, black electrical tape, packaging for a travel alarm clock, full and empty Playdoh containers, surgical gloves, green plastic bags and two boxes the same size as the ones used to deliver the fake bombs to Wright and Sherburne counties.
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