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Marietta man found guilty of federal charges

Becker

CHARLESTON – A Marietta man was convicted Tuesday after a two-day trial by a federal jury in West Virginia of all four counts charging him in connection with pipe bombs found on tugboats on the Ohio River, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia.

Law enforcement officers recovered the devices from two tugboats moving barges on the Ohio River on Oct. 21 and Oct. 25.

Evidence at trial revealed Nathaniel Blayn Becker, 42, of Marietta appeared on security video purchasing pipes and other relevant components of the devices from Lowe’s in Marietta on four separate occasions and close in time to when the devices were found, according to United States Attorney Will Thompson.

Around the time of the first incident, exterior security video from Lowe’s and the Walmart in Marietta showed Becker carrying pipe bomb components toward an Ohio River bridge, Thompson said. Investigators believe the destructive devices were dropped from the bridge.

Becker was found guilty late Tuesday afternoon of two counts of possession of an unregistered destructive device and two counts of placement of a destructive device on a vessel.

He is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 18 and faces up to 60 years in prison.

The jury also heard that similar devices were discovered on a third tugboat moving barges on the Ohio River on Oct. 26, however, those devices were found to contain non-explosive septic tank cleaner and therefore Becker was not charged, Thompson said.

Becker was on probation at the time of the offense, following an August 2020 conviction in the Washington County Court of Common Pleas for failure to comply with an order or signal of a police officer. Becker had brandished a knife at an officer during a traffic stop and then led police on a car chase before barricading himself in his residence. Becker was arrested after a stand-off that ended when police forced entry into the home.

“We are fortunate that no one was injured. Such senseless potential for harm and destruction clearly required decisive action,” Thompson said. “The swift and successful investigation by the law enforcement agencies involved absolutely prevented this situation from becoming worse, and I commend them. I applaud Assistant United States Attorneys Joshua C. Hanks and Nick Miller, along with their trial team, for securing the guilty verdict.”

Thompson thanked Lowe’s, Walmart and tugboat owners Crounse Corp., Campbell Transportation Co. and Marathon Petroleum Corp. for their cooperation.

United States District Judge Irene C. Berger presided. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives conducted the investigation with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the West Virginia State Police, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Parkersburg Police Department, the Wood County Sheriff’s Department and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

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