Oakland man gets 40 years in prison for mailing bombs that injured two people

An Oakland man who mailed two home-made bombs that exploded and injured two people, apparently as acts of revenge against law enforcement officers, was decreed to 40 years in federal prison Thursday.

Ross Laverty, now 61, was convicted by a jury in 2020 of six felonies in connection with the explosive devices he had assembled and sent from his home three years earlier.

Prosecutors said his first target was a San Mateo County officer who had strip-searched him in jail in 2014. But Laverty mistakenly sent it to another man with the same last name, a grocery store clerk who received the package at his home in October 2017 and opened it in his back yard a week later. The device exploded, tearing a hole in a nearby fence and causing bleeding and other injuries, prosecutors said. They said the victim still has trouble concentrating and has ringing in his ears.

A month later, another package arrived at the home of an Alameda police officer who had arrested Laverty after a probation search of his home in 2013. Prosecutors said the officer’s wife picked up the package and contacted her husband, who texted her to open it. But when she saw wires inside, she threw the package down and rushed to the bathroom before the device exploded, filling the house with smoke and debris. She was taken to a hospital in an ambulance and tested at the 2020 trial that she continued to have head pains and ringing in her ears.

Officers said the devices were designed to go off when the packages were opened and contained a metal projectile that would be ejected at high velocity like a bullet from a gun.

“My heart goes out to the innocent victims of these horrific acts,” US Attorney Stephanie Hinds said in a statement after the sentencing. “Ross Laverty not only injured the victims, he put mail carriers and handlers and numerous others at risk of serious injury and death.”

The crimes carried a mandatory sentence of 30 years. Federal prosecutors sought at least 40 years, and their request was granted by US District Judge William Orrick III.

Defense attorney Alexander Guilmartin argued for a 30-year sentence. He said Laverty’s crimes were serious but that he had long suffered from mental illness, “imaginary voices (he) has heard throughout his life,” as well as drug and alcohol addiction.

A 30-year term, Guilmartin said in a court filing, might give Laverty “the opportunity to spend his final moments with his family and to die in the comfort of their companionship, rather than in a cell.”

Bob Egelko is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: begelko@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @BobEgelko

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