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Monday, June 16, 2014

Ryan Chamberlain: Not Guilty Plea as Government Details Weapon and Toxin Allegations

Posted By on Mon, Jun 16, 2014 at 1:05 PM

"Not one, not two, but three deadly toxins..." - @POLIHOLIC
  • @PoliHolic
  • "Not one, not two, but three deadly toxins..."

Ryan Chamberlain, the San Francisco political operative turned FBI manhunt target, this morning pleaded not guilty to the explosives and weapons charges being brought against him by the federal government.

And, in detailing why Chamberlain should not be released prior to that pending trial, federal prosecutor Philip Kearney let loose a torrent of heretofore unreleased revelations regarding Chamberlain's alleged purchasing of deadly toxins and the purported bomb in his apartment -- which, it was revealed today, the Feds have already destroyed.

When posited by Judge Nathanael Cousins why Chamberlain should not be freed on his own recognizance, Kearney delivered a harrowing, 10-minute soliloquy regarding ricin, bombs, and menacing Google search terms.

See Also: Prior Ryan Chamberlain coverage

Kearney, adopting a pitter-patter more commonly employed by late-night TV pitchmen, revealed that the government now claims Chamberlain bought "not one, not two, but three deadly toxins."

In addition to the abrin and pure nicotine he allegedly purchased via Bitcoin on black-market websites and had shipped to his Polk Street apartment, Kearney now claims 20 to 40 castor beans -- the source for ricin -- were discovered within the flat.

"The government is at a loss as to why anyone would acquire these substances," says the prosecutor, "other than to kill human beings."

FBI agents, Kearney continued, "are burning the midnight oil at Quantico" to further pull data off Chamberlain's seized electronic equipment. So far, however, they recovered the following search terms from his iPhone: WMD, ricin, poison, arsenic, chloroform, homicide, killing, untraceable and suicide, among others. From his iPad: blasting switch, explosives, bomb, and Uncle Fester -- not only an Addams Family character but an online-how to manual regarding explosives and refinement of toxins.

  • @PoliHolic
The so-called improvised explosive device found in a satchel within Chamberlain's apartment, per the prosecutor, was "fully formed" and ready to be detonated via its remote control. Shrapnel was included within the device, which the government views as especially sinister.

The green powder discovered along with the alleged IED was composed of sulfur, potassium chloride, and ground quartz, and served as a "pyrotechnic energetic material." Kearney estimates there was about a quarter pound of this material -- that is, there was before federal agents destroyed the device.

Despite "talk about depression and suicide, it does not appear this device was intended to be used in a suicide," says the prosecutor. "That would be a messy, very painful way to die. It appears to be an aggressive weapon."

Finally, a "clothespin switch" -- a common clothespin equipped with

wires and hooked to a 9-volt battery so as to complete a circuit when

closed -- was discovered within Chamberlain's apartment. This is,

purportedly, a device commonly used in jury-rigged booby traps.

Chamberlain had what he described in his own words as "a will of sorts" in his pocket at the time he was arrested, according to Kearney. "Being dramatic, suicide is the ultimate flight," the prosecutor continued. He saw Chamberlain -- who has lived in four other states and been arrested six prior times in three separate states -- as a likely flight risk.

Per the affidavit permitting the search of his apartment, Chamberlain has two prior felony arrests -- but both cases were dismissed. In 2003, he was accused of assault with a deadly weapon and child cruelty; in 2009 he was nabbed for battery and injury of a child.

Federal public defender Jodi Linker, meanwhile, made her pitch for Chamberlain to be released prior to voluntarily checking into General Hospital for psychiatric treatment.

Regarding the alarming Google search terms read to the court, she argued, Americans don't go to jail on the basis of alarming Google search terms.

The .22-caliber pistol discovered within Chamberlain's apartment with the serial number sanded off of it, per the defense attorney, was "almost novelty sized." It was, she continued, "like the sort of thing you'd take to a party."

Just what manner of party Linker had in mind went unmentioned.

Linker also lamented that she and her experts hadn't had an opportunity to examine the alleged IED -- which has since been blown to bits. She asked for extra time to research reasons for possessing castor beans other than deriving ricin. When casting similar doubts upon Chamberlain's hostile intent with regards to the purported IED, Judge Cousins calmly asked "Do you have an argument what a non-violent use of a bomb might be?"

Linker speculated Chamberlain "might be really into electronics."

In the end, Cousins found that the government's argument that Chamberlain was a "completely unacceptable" candidate for pre-trial release to be a winning one. He remains at 850 Bryant Street; a transfer to General Hospital's secure, psychiatric facility following a more thorough mental assessment is a possibility (Linker lamented that the level of care being offered to Chamberlain in lockup is someone coming by every few days and asking "are you going to kill yourself today?").

He is charged with possession of a destructive device and possession of a firearm with the serial number filed off of it. Those charges carry potential 10- and 5-year sentences. He will next be in court on Thursday and his trial is set to commence July 21 before Judge Vince Chhabria.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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