Fed Judge Hands OC Pipe Bomber 30 Months In Jail

OCEAN CITY – An Ocean City man arrested on several felony charges related to the construction and use of explosives at and near his resort residence last fall, followed by a threat of retaliation against a witness who assisted in the investigation, was convicted in U.S. District Court on Tuesday and was sentenced to 30 months in jail followed by three years of supervised probation.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Richard D. Bennett sentenced Norman Arnold, 21, of Ocean City, to 30 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised probation for constructing pipe bombs at his residence on 138th Street last September. According to the guilty plea, prior to his arrest last Sept. 11, Arnold bought PVC piping, end caps and large amounts of fireworks, which he used to fashion improvised explosive devices, or IEDs.

Arnold used the materials to make several pipe bombs in a shed located in his backyard. According to court reports, he would place a fuse in the end of the pipe and blow it up. At different times, Arnold was reported to have blown up sections of the beach as well as trash receptacles on the beach near his residence on 138th Street.

Last Sept. 11, the Ocean City Fire Marshal’s Office, assisted by the Ocean City Police Department, executed a search and seizure warrant on Arnold’s 138th Street residence. The Fire Marshal’s Office had obtained an arrest warrant for Arnold after receiving a complaint the suspect threatened to set fire to or blow up a vehicle belonging to another person dating back to an incident in July 2008.

While serving the warrant on Arnold, members of the Fire Marshal’s Office Bomb Squad found and confiscated materials used to manufacture destructive devices. The materials confiscated included PVC pipes with affixed end caps that were filled with gunpowder and pre-drilled for a possible fusing system, a one-gallon container of gunpowder, several lengths of PVC pipe, an additional pre-drilled end cap and a spool of hobby fuse.

Investigators at the time were not certain what Arnold’s intentions were for the confiscated explosive devices, although he had used several already, according to a press release from the U.S. District Attorney’s Office. He was taken into custody and charged with one count of threat of arson by setting fire and one count of threat of arson by exploding a destructive device, both felonies that carried a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail.

Later, Arnold learned of a witness’s cooperation with the criminal investigation and threatened to retaliate against the witness. According to the U.S. District Court release, on Nov. 10, 2008, Arnold phoned the witness and threatened the witness would “pay for assisting in the investigation.”

The charges against Arnold in Worcester County were later dropped when his case was forwarded to the U.S. District Court for Maryland. On Tuesday, Arnold pleaded guilty to constructing pipe bombs and was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised probation upon release, according to U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein.