Man accused in Colonial Williamsburg bombing faces additional charges

Staff Writer

Federal prosecutors have charged Stephen Powers, the man accused of detonating a pipe bomb at Colonial Williamsburg, with additional criminal charges. Among them: lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In a Nov. 13 filing in United States District Court in the Eastern District of Virginia, a district judge signed an order that indicated Powers told the court he wanted to plead guilty to possession of an unregistered destructive device.

But 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 said.

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 latest indictment in the case elaborates on federal prosecutors’ decision to narrow the first charge against Powers and add two more.

Prosecutors allege Powers possessed an unregistered destructive device, an improvised pipe bomb for example, 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 allege Powers lied to FBI special agents and told them a credit card he used to buy bomb-making materials had been stolen, the indictment said.

Police say Powers bought bomb-making materials at the 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 can be seen his one-and-a-half-year old son.

A spokesman for the Department of Justice did not return a request for comment.

Powers was as 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 indicated he is not welcome at her residence and she is “extremely afraid of him,” 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 10 a.m. Jan. 23, 2019, according to federal court records.

Roberts can be reached at 757-604-1329, by email at srobertsjr@vagazette.com and on Twitter @SPRobertsJr.

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