U.S. DISTRICT COURT
Bethesda Teen to Plead Guilty in Bombmaking Case
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
A Bethesda teenager accused of having armor-piercing bullets, high-powered rifles and a map of Camp David in his room last summer is scheduled to plead guilty Wednesday to possession of a destructive device, his attorney said Tuesday.
Collin McKenzie-Gude, now 19, has been locked up for 14 months. He is due in federal court for a hearing at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, the latest twist in a case that drew nationwide interest last summer. Prosecutors are set to drop two remaining charges against McKenzie-Gude related to his alleged production of fake federal IDs, said the attorney, Steven Kupferberg.
"We're pleading guilty because we're guilty," Kupferberg said of the destructive-device charge.
He has long maintained that his client never intended to hurt anyone and that the guns found inside McKenzie-Gude's home were legal.
Sentencing in the case is not expected for another two months, at which point more details about the probe could be disclosed. Federal prosecutors say that sentencing guidelines call for McKenzie-Gude to serve five to six years in prison, Kupferberg said, a punishment he plans to contest.
"What they're asking for is overkill," Kupferberg said.
The U.S. attorney's office in Maryland, which is prosecuting the case, declined to comment. In a statement released Tuesday, the office said McKenzie-Gude is scheduled for a "re-arraignment" in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt. Those types of hearings often result in a change in plea. McKenzie-Gude earlier had pleaded not guilty.
His trial was scheduled to begin Tuesday.
Cases against McKenzie-Gude and his close friend at the time, Patrick Yevsukov, broke open in July 2008. The teenagers attended St. John's College High School in the District, where they were on the rifle team. Yevsukov's aunt, who became concerned about their behavior outside of school, reported her concerns to police.
Officers eventually searched McKenzie-Gude's home on Rockhurst Road, just outside the Beltway. They found military-style rifles; two shotguns; various chemicals, switches, pipes and other materials that can be used to make bombs; a map of Camp David marked with the presidential motorcade route; and a document that appeared to describe how to kill someone at 200 meters, according to law enforcement affidavits and officials.
Prosecutors have not said in court what they thought the teenagers' intentions were. McKenzie-Gude and Yevsukov have also been charged in Montgomery County. In January, Yevsukov, who is now 18, pleaded guilty to two counts of manufacture or possession of a destructive device, one count of unauthorized access to a computer and one count of theft of less than $100. Sentencing for that case is pending.
He, too, has said he was not out to hurt anyone.
"Both boys have accepted responsibility for their involvement in a very serious case and can now begin to get on with their lives," said Rene Sandler, Yevsukov's attorney.
Federal officials did not take action against Yevsukov but did secure an indictment against McKenzie-Gude. The local weapons charges against McKenzie-Gude were dismissed when he was charged in federal court.
Kupferberg said he will seek at sentencing to have McKenzie-Gude released from jail based on the time he has already served.
"He would really like to put this behind him," Kupferberg said.
The lawyer also said he will continue to challenge the legality of a search warrant used to enter McKenzie-Gude's home, where the teen lived with his parents. If he can get the search warrant thrown out, then McKenzie-Gude's conviction also could be thrown out, Kupferberg said.