A 41-year-old Oklee, Minn., man who wrote about plans for insurrection and was convicted earlier this year of illegally possessing a cache of homemade pipe bombs has been sentenced to five years in federal prison.
Chief U.S. District Judge John Tunheim sentenced Eric James Reinbold on Friday in Fergus Falls, where he had been convicted by a federal jury in July on a single charge of possessing an unregistered destructive device.
Investigators raided Reinbold’s property last year after relatives reported finding a tote bag that concealed about a half-dozen pipe bombs, other homemade explosives and a receipt from a website that sells fuses that was in Reinbold’s name. Investigators also seized a handbook filled with diagrams on how to make bombs that Reinbold titled “How one (1) person Can make a difference,” which included a subtitle describing it as the “Instruction Booklet at the HCU (homemade commando university).”
Tunheim only allowed evidence related to using or making bombs to be shown to jurors at trial, but a copy of the book that appeared in court filings also described sparking a “2nd American Revolution” and attacking government agencies like the IRS and “feminism.”
“The defendant possessed multiple pipe bombs and other items that presented a potentially dangerous situation for the Red Lake County community,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Allyn said in a statement Friday. “It is because of a courageous decision made by relatives of the defendant to report the pipe bombs, that the community is safe.”
When Reinbold leaves prison, he will also be subject to three years of supervised release.
Prosecutors sought an 87-month sentence for Reinbold, whose lawyers argued for probation. Bruce Rivers and Blair Nelson, Reinbold’s attorneys, described Reinbold in a memo filed before sentencing as a farmer and sole income earner for his family. The attorneys described Reinbold’s handbook as “an anti government survivalist fantasy book” inspired by movies.
“He is a bit of an eccentric character and in conformity with that he created several pipe bombs,” they wrote. “These were never meant to hurt anyone and they were never used in that manner.”
Rivers and Nelson said Reinbold used the bombs to break up a beaver dam and clear an ice dam in a creek. But prosecutors argued that Reinbold had an “incredible commitment to building several types of bombs, some designed to be operated by trip wires” and said he stored the pipe bombs in an area where children played. They also cited “disturbing and violent” beliefs listed in his handbook, which had a “target” list featuring “women’s rights Headquarters” and “Teacher conventions.”
“Given [Reinbold’s] willingness to follow through with building bombs detailed in the Notebook, there is every reason to believe he would similarly follow through some day in acting out against his list of targets,” Allyn wrote in a memo to the court before sentencing.