SAN FRANCISCO – Ross Gordon Laverty, convicted of multiple felonies for mailing two improvised explosive devices with the intent to injure or kill his targets, was sentenced today to 40 years (480 months) in federal prison, announced United States Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds and U.S. Postal Inspection Service San Francisco Division Acting Inspector-In-Charge Kevin Rho. United States District Judge William H. Orrick handed down the sentence.
A federal jury convicted Laverty, 61, of Oakland, on October 14, 2020, of mailing explosive devices through the U.S. mail on two occasions with the intent to kill or injure the addressees. An explosives expert testified at trial that the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were victim-activated devices “intended to go off when the victim causes it to go off” by opening the package. Both IEDs contained a nickel coin epoxied to the end of a pipe that was designed to shoot “off like a projectile” in a manner “just like a bullet would out of a gun,” thereby injuring or killing the victims “pretty easily.”
Revenge motivated Laverty’s mailings. Trial evidence established that he sent the first package to retaliate against a corrections officer who strip-searched Laverty while he was incarcerated at a San Mateo county jail in April of 2014. Evidence showed Laverty sent the second package as retribution against an Alameda Police Department officer involved in a probation search of Laverty’s residence in October of 2013. The officer found contraband during that search and arrested Laverty.
Laverty missed his intended targets and injured others instead. Trial evidence showed that Laverty mailed the first package to the wrong person, directing it to an East Palo Alto man employed as a Whole Foods grocery store clerk who happened to share the same name as Laverty’s intended victim, the San Mateo corrections officer. The package arrived via U.S. mail at the victim’s residence. Its return address listed a purported jewelry store in Palo Alto. On October 19, 2017, the victim opened the package while he was in his backyard. The package detonated with a loud blast. The nickel epoxied to the end of the device’s copper pipe shot off, blowing a hole in the backyard fence and ultimately landing in a neighbor’s yard. The victim was left injured and in shock, with bleeding hands and blisters on his stomach. To this day the victim suffers ringing in his ears, cramping in his hands, and trouble concentrating.
The intended target of Laverty’s second mail bomb was the Alameda police officer who had arrested Laverty. On November 24, 2017, the officer’s wife returned home to find a U.S. postman had delivered a package addressed to her husband. The package listed a return address for a non-existent jewelry store in Berkeley. As the wife began to open the package, she saw wires inside. She quickly threw it. The package exploded, filling the house with smoke and debris. The victim’s head was injured, and an ambulance rushed her to a hospital where she was admitted. Three years later, the victim testified at trial that she still experiences head pains and ringing in her ears.
A grand jury returned a superseding indictment against Laverty on May 21, 2019, charging him with two counts of mailing an explosive devise with the intent to injure or kill, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1716(a) and (j)(2); two counts of possession of an unregistered firearm (explosive device), in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 5861(d); and two counts of using an explosive during the commission of a felony, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 844(h)(1) and (2).
A federal jury found Laverty guilty on all counts following his October 2020 trial.
“My heart goes out to the innocent victims of these horrific acts,” said United States Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds. “Ross Laverty not only injured the victims, he put mail carriers and handlers and numerous others at risk of serious injury and death. The public must be protected from such reckless, violent crimes. I thank our law enforcement partners, both federal and local, who worked long and hard to solve and prosecute these crimes.”
“This desperate and shocking attack on our partners in law enforcement did real harm to customers of the U.S. Postal Service,” said Acting Inspector-in-Charge Kevin Rho of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, San Francisco Division. “Today’s sentence demonstrates our unity of purpose in protecting the public from dangerous items in the mail. I want to thank ATF, FBI, the San Mateo County Crime Laboratory, Verdugo Regional Crime Laboratory, San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, East Palo Alto Police Department, Alameda Police Department, Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, and Oakland Police Department for their invaluable teamwork in bringing this criminal to justice.”
In addition to the 40 year sentence, United States District Judge Orrick imposed a three year term of supervision following Laverty’s release from prison and ordered that he pay restitution to his victims. Laverty was in custody at sentencing and begins serving his sentence immediately.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara J. Valliere and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Elise LaPunzina of the Special Prosecutions Section of the United States Attorney’s Office prosecuted the case, with the assistance of Helen Yee. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the East Palo Alto Police Department, the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department, Alameda Police Department, Oakland Police Department, Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, and the San Mateo County Crime Laboratory and Verdugo Regional Crime Laboratory.