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Driver Guilty in Explosives Threat

Mich. Man Arrested Near White House

By Theola S. Labbe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 18, 2005; Page A06

A Michigan man who threatened to blow up his van near the White House two days before President Bush's second inauguration pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court.

Lowell W. Timmers, 54, of Cedar Springs faced a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for making a false explosive threat but under the plea agreement will serve 34 months.

Officers run past the van driven by Lowell W. Timmers in January. In court, Timmers said he wanted to avoid a trial because he thought he would lose. (Mike Segar -- Reuters)

Timmers told U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan that he wanted to avoid a trial on the felony charge because he thought he would lose. "Yes, I am guilty of this offense," Timmers told the judge.

Timmers appeared in court in an orange jail jumpsuit and stood next to his attorney, Tony Axam, during the hearing. He listened as Assistant U.S. Attorney Heidi M. Pasichow recited what happened the afternoon of Jan. 18:

Timmers drove a red van into a secure area near the White House at 15th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW. When Secret Service agents tried to get him to move, he flashed his hand, which held what appeared to be a switching device for a possible bomb.

"I want my son, and I'm not leaving until my son-in-law is out of jail," Pasichow described Timmers as saying. "I have 10 gallons of gas in here, and I will blow up the van and the White House."

Pasichow described the chaotic scene that ensued about 3:30 p.m., at the start of the afternoon rush hour. Streets were hastily closed, resulting in widespread gridlock and stranded commuters.

After 4 1/2 hours of negotiations, Timmers surrendered peacefully. Police recovered six glass canisters with a yellowish liquid and six five-gallon metal gasoline canisters from the van, Pasichow said. According to court papers, the device that Timmers displayed only appeared to be related to a bomb.

Timmers came to Washington because he was angry that his daughter's fiance was being held by immigration authorities and faced deportation, court papers said.

Sullivan asked Timmers whether he had ever received treatment for mental illness or distress. Timmers said he once feigned mental distress while in the military to get out of a training exercise. Sullivan said he agreed to accept the plea pending a presentencing report.

Timmers is scheduled to be sentenced June 30.

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