Metro-East News

St. Louis man sentenced to prison time after trading morphine pills for pipe bomb

A St. Louis man who traded morphine pills for a pipe bomb so he could avenge the death of his aunt's dogs was sentenced Friday to prison.

Paul Owens was initially arrested in July 2017 after he set up a trade with an informant working with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, according to court documents from the U.S. District Court of Southern Illinois.

He was sentenced Friday to five years in federal prison and three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to the charge late last year.

Owens told the ATF informant that he wanted a 4-inch long pipe bomb with hardened steel end caps containing black powder, court records stated. He agreed to exchange morphine pills for the bomb.

Later, Owens said he wanted the fuse to be 1.5-feet to 2-feet long. He said he wanted to detonate the bomb early in the morning when his target was asleep, according to court records. After he was arrested, he told ATF agents that he intended to put a pipe bomb in the mailbox of the person who had shot his aunt's dogs.

The informant and Owens met in Madison County to obtain the pipe bomb in late July 2017, and once the two exchanged the materials, Owens was arrested. The informant gave Owens a toolbox with a pipe bomb constructed by the ATF, one with such a small amount of powder so that if it was accidentally set off it wouldn't hurt anyone.

The informant asked Owens if he really wanted to proceed with the plan, and Owens looked into the toolbox and said, "Oh, yeah." and asked if he had any gloves, just in case the bomb didn't go off.

Owens could have been sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.