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'Curiosity' Leads Man to Steal Federal Explosives During a Camping Trip

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Fer Gregory/Shutterstock.com

Theft of federal property isn't always the most logical practice, but a man in Wyoming took the act to a new high (low?) last year when he stole more than 500 pounds of Forest Service explosives while camping.

Budd James Nesius, 33, pleaded guilty to charges of possession of stolen explosives in federal court last week. “I guess curiosity got the best of me, and I took it way too far,” Nesius said in court.

In April 2013, Nesius was out with friends on a camping trip and happened upon a bunker on Forest Service property. According to The Casper Star-Tribune, the area is marked by signs noting the explosives in the bunker.

These signs apparently gave Nesius an idea.

Nesius told his friend he intended to steal the explosives. He returned later with bolt cutters, cut the locks and loaded 10 boxes of explosives and 3,936 feet of detonation cord into the back of his truck, [Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan] Whittaker said.

According to court records, prosecutors said Nesius kept the explosives in a travel trailer for weeks and tried, unsuccessfully, to sell them. As soon as the Forest Service discovered the explosives were missing, another agency was called to find them:

An investigation by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives led agents in early June to Nesius’ home, where they visited his mother, who allowed agents to search the property. They found no explosives.

But later, ATF was tipped off that the explosives had been located near a dirt road east of town. 

Nesius confessed to the crime in an interview with ATF agents. The ATF also linked Nesius to the theft via DNA, witnesses and by "electronic surveillance," according to the Tribune. Nesius' crimes could net him a $250,000 fine and 10 years in prison. His sentencing is set for December.

(Image via Fer Gregory/Shutterstock.com)

Prior to joining Government Executive’s online production staff, Ross Gianfortune worked at The Washington Post, The Gazette Newspapers, WXRT Radio and The Columbia Missourian. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from University of Missouri and a master's in communications from the American University.

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