EAST ST. LOUIS — Wearing an oversized jumpsuit with "St. Clair County Jail" printed on the back, Justin Vangilder pleaded guilty Wednesday to three federal counts of possession of a destructive device.
Vangilder, a former Air Force senior airman, answered politely to questions posed by U.S. District Judge Michael Reagan, who accepted his guilty plea.
Vangilder told Reagan that he suffered from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder and took medication.
"Can you tell if the medicine is working?" Reagan asked.
"I would like to say yes, sir," Vangilder replied.
"Do you think that it is working today?" Reagan asked.
"Yes, sir," he answered.
Last year, a witness tipped police that Vangilder had three pipe bombs. When police arrived at his apartment on Oct. 2 to check out the tip, documents stated that Vangilder allowed them to search and they found three pipe bombs, two in plastic casing and one in a metal pipe. The bombs contained smokeless gunpowder, birdshot and nails, documents stated.
Vangilder, 24, told federal agents that he planned to use the bombs on child molesters.
Vangilder was transported to Chicago for a mental evaluation. He was found fit to stand trial.
Reagan said Wednesday that he could sentence Vangilder to probation up to 30 years in prison and $750,000 fine -- 10 years and $250,000 on each count. Reagan will use the federal sentencing guidelines to determine an appropriate sentence for Vangilder. Where Vangilder falls on those guidelines depends on a pre-sentence investigation, Reagan said.
Vangilder is scheduled for Aug. 1 sentencing before Reagan.
Contact reporter Beth Hundsdorfer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2570.