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Russian-born man still jailed in bomb case

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By The Associated Press
Saturday, March 1, 2014, 4:54 p.m.
 

JOHNSTOWN — A federal judge has reversed himself and decided a Russian-born college student accused of building bombs in his central Pennsylvania apartment will remain jailed until trial.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Kim Gibson last month said he was inclined to release 18-year-old Vladislav Miftakhov, a Penn State-Altoona student jailed since his Jan. 24 arrest, while his case moved forward.

But federal prosecutors appealed and Gibson changed his mind in an opinion Friday, a day after hearing testimony that Miftakhov was on juvenile court probation for a minor charge out of California when he allegedly possessed the bomb-making materials at his off-campus apartment.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Eberle had argued that Miftakhov had smoked and grown marijuana in his apartment about 85 miles east of Pittsburgh, in addition to making the explosives.

In his earlier ruling, Gibson said it was apparent that Miftakhov set off explosions for kicks and didn't intend to harm anyone. But he changed his mind about releasing Miftakhov on bond after learning about the California probation, which grew out of a trespassing charge that his friend's parents pursued when they found Miftakhov attended a party at their San Carlos home while they were out of town.

The “informal probation” imposed on Miftakhov by the California juvenile court is similar to accelerated rehabilitative disposition in Pennsylvania, which enables a person to have their arrest record expunged if they complete a short probation term without incident, the (Altoona) Mirror reported Saturday.

As a result, Gibson found “Miftakhov has shown a pattern of unlawful behavior and that he has shown an unwillingness to comply with the terms of his probation in California.”

According to the federal charges, Miftakhov ordered potassium perchlorate and magnesium online, then mixed the chemicals and put them into empty metal cartridges that were made to hold pressurized carbon dioxide.

Altoona police arrested Miftakhov after finding those materials, as well as marijuana plants, after a tip from his landlord. Federal authorities took over the case last month.

Miftakhov's public defender Christopher Brown has argued Miftakhov made the devices so he could blow them up in a field near his apartment, not to harm people or property.

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