Man who set off bomb in Williamsburg pleads guilty, faces 25 years

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NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – The former Colonial Williamsburg employee who set off a bomb near Merchant’s Square pleaded guilty Friday morning in Norfolk Federal Court.

31-year-old Stephen Powers now faces 25 years in prison for the incident that happened on October 19, 2017.

Prosecutors say Powers created the device using a section of metal pipe that was filled with smokeless powder. When the IED went off, it propelled pieces of metal about 150 feet away. 

Investigators say he plugged the IED into decorative lights wrapped around a power pole in a parking lot near Berret’s Seafood Restaurant and Taphouse Grill.    

No one was hurt from the incident, but during a previous court appearance where Powers had pleaded not guilty, Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Hurt say the weekend was one of the “busiest” of the year. The pipe bomb was detonated near the College of William and Mary where students were celebrating parent’s weekend.

FBI agents found bomb making parts hidden in Powers’ Gloucester home. Investigators tell 10 On Your Side they found pipes, rocket engine igniters and other bomb making parts hidden under insulation.

Powers pleaded guilty to two counts of having the materials to make a bomb. Each carries a maximum of 10 years in prison.

He also pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents. 10 On Your Side learned when agents interviewed him about the incident, he told them his credit card had been stolen when it hadn’t been. 

FBI agents say video from the Bass Pro Shop store in Hampton shows Powers using his card to buy the bomb making materials. That charge carries an additional five years.

Powers remains in custody for now at the Western Tidewater Regional Jail. His sentencing is scheduled for May 2.

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