SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah man accused of wanting to kill police officers and blow up a police station to trigger an anti-government uprising is set to be sentenced Thursday.
John Huggins faces up to 10 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to possession of an unregistered destructive device in a deal with prosecutors. In return, they dropped two other charges related to explosive devices.
Investigators say they found a homemade grenade-like device constructed from an energy-drink bottle inside his trailer home in July after police got a tip that Huggins was targeting a police station.
A person described as a “concerned citizen” told investigators that Huggins talked about assassinating two officers and blowing up the police station in his hometown of Tremonton, about 75 miles north of Salt Lake City, authorities said. He also threatened to blow up bridges and other infrastructure to prevent emergency responders from being able to help, according to court records.
Shortly before his arrest, Huggins, 48, met with an undercover FBI agent and confidential police informant at a restaurant in Tremonton. During the meeting, he’s accused of offering to build and sell explosive devices and bomb-making material.
Defense attorneys have called the evidence against Huggins weak but declined further comment on the case.
Tremonton Police Chief David Nance has described Huggins as a survivalist who once attempted to establish a militia. The device found in his home could have caused serious damage and injury, Nance has said.
Investigators also found five spiral notebooks detailing police activities and officer call signs from radio traffic during an unrelated search of Huggins’ home in March 2013, he said.
Huggins’ run-ins with Tremonton police date back more than a decade. In 2001 and 2002, Huggins was convicted of assault and discharging a firearm toward a building.
Six years later, a police task force discovered a homemade pipe bomb while arresting him on drug violations. Huggins pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor charges of drug possession, illegally possessing a handgun and recklessness with an incendiary device.