After prosecutors filed additional charges and worked to keep as many as 30 witnesses secret, the man accused in the 2017 bombing in Merchants Square told the court he wants to plead guilty as part of an apparent plea agreement.
In Friday’s court filing in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Virginia, a federal judge signed an order that indicated Stephen Powers told the court he wanted to plead guilty to the charges against him.
“This court has been advised that the defendant wishes to enter a plea of guilty,” the filing states.
Powers, 31, of Gloucester County, has been charged with detonating a pipe bomb in Merchants Square on Oct. 19, 2017. There were no reported injuries. The official federal charges against Powers include two counts of possession of an unregistered destructive device and lying to a federal agent.
Powers has tried to plead guilty before.
In a Nov. 13 filing, a district judge signed an order that indicated Powers told the court he wanted to plead guilty to possession of an unregistered destructive device.
Two days later, federal prosecutors submitted a superseding indictment with two additional charges placed against Powers for lying to a federal agent and another count of possession of an unregistered destructive device, the indictment stated.
The superseding indictment narrowed the allegations against Powers for one charge while prosecutors added two more against him.
Federal prosecutors say Powers possessed an unregistered destructive device, such as an improvised pipe bomb, on the day of the Colonial Williamsburg bombing, as well as components to create more such devices after the bombing.
A federal court filing from May says law enforcement discovered three more bombs that had not been assembled in Powers’ home during a search after the bombing.
Prosecutors also say Powers lied to FBI special agents and told them a credit card he used to buy bomb-making materials had been stolen, the indictment stated.
Police say Powers bought bomb-making materials at a Bass Pro Shop in Hampton with a Wells Fargo credit card that he later reported stolen, according to Virginia Gazette archives.
Recorded on surveillance cameras at the sporting goods store, Powers purchased three plastic jars of Benchmark smokeless gunpowder — a type of finely granulated gunpowder used for precision firearm ammunition, according to Virginia Gazette archives. At his side during the purchase, his 1-and-a-half-year-old son is seen.
A voicemail for the spokesman of the Department of Justice was full. Criminal cases are expected to continue despite the partial government shutdown, according to the Department of Justice contingency plan. It’s unclear whether or not the spokesman has been furloughed because of the shutdown.
Powers was a maintenance worker at Colonial Williamsburg for at least two years prior to the incident, according to Virginia Gazette archives.
Law enforcement arrested Powers at his home in Gloucester County on Oct. 20, 2017.
Since the bombing, Powers’ wife has said she is “extremely afraid of him,” and said Powers is not welcome at her home, according to an order of detention filed by a magistrate judge.
The Williamsburg-James City County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office declined to prosecute Powers in May 2018 after a federal grand jury indicted Powers for possession of an unregistered destructive device, according to local and federal court records.
Powers is expected to go before a judge in United States District Court in Norfolk at 9:30 a.m. Saturday for a plea agreement hearing, according to federal court records.
Roberts can be reached at 757-604-1329, by email at email@example.com and on Twitter @SPRobertsJr.