PHOENIX (AP) - A prosecutor says an Oklahoma man charged with mailing an inoperable homemade bomb to Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio wasn’t motivated by animosity toward the sheriff and instead sent the explosive package in hopes of framing a former business partner.
Prosecutor Paul Stearns said Thursday that Gregory Lynn Shrader of Jay, Oklahoma, addressed the parcel to Arpaio and put his former partner’s name as the return address on the package that was dropped off in April 2013 at a U.S. Postal Service collection-box unit in Flagstaff.
“This case is about a setup,” Stearns told jurors on the opening day of Shrader’s trial.
Investigators say Shrader drove with a relative from his home state to Arizona to put the bomb in the collection-box unit and that Shrader was driven by a need for revenge against his former partner in a financial trading books business. The former partner has denied sending the package that was addressed to Arpaio.
Robert Newcomb, Shrader’s attorney, declined to make an opening statement to jurors.
Shrader, 56, looked at the jury regularly as the prosecutor summarized his case to the jury.
He has pleaded not guilty to charges of making a threat by means of explosive material, transportation of explosive material, mailing an injurious item and possession of explosive materials by felon.
The business relationship between Shrader and his partner fell apart after the partner refused to publish a book because the partner believed the material may have been published previously by another author. Shrader filed unsuccessful lawsuits against his partner and had made previous attempts to wrongfully implicate the former partner in criminal conduct, prosecutors said.
Authorities also alleged Shrader made a threat to kill or injure Arpaio by addressing the package to the sheriff.
The package was spotted by a postal employee who became suspicious after noticing the parcel had excessive stamps and a typewritten address label. Postal inspectors saw a silver grain-like material spilling out from the parcel’s seams that was later determined to be explosive smokeless powder.
Arpaio, who has had a security detail for years and said he regularly receives threats, hasn’t been subpoenaed to testify at the trial.
The bomb was made of smokeless powder, wires, a battery and a pressure-release switch attached to its lid.
Authorities eventually determined the bomb was inoperable, though black power inside the parcel could have exploded or ignited in a flash fire.
Police disabled the bomb with a water cannon.
Authorities say a woman told them that she drove with Shrader to northern Arizona and saw him place the parcel into the mailbox wearing surgical gloves.
The FBI said it found a document during the search of Shrader’s home that closely resembles the return address of the parcel.
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