December 9, 2010

Man accused in bomb plot had prior criminal charges in MOCO

Before being charged in a jihadist plot to kill American soldiers in Catonsville with a car bomb, Antonio Martinez was a petty thief in the D.C. suburbs. At age 16, he was arrested for armed robbery. Juvenile records aren't public, but two years later – in the span of a few weeks – he was charged with trying to steal a car in Bladensburg and snatching money from a cash register at a store in Rockville.

Federal authorities say on Wednesday, Martinez, a recent convert to Islam who goes by Muhammad Hussain, was arrested after trying to pull off a bombing at the Armed Forces Career Center on Baltimore National Pike. FBI agents had engaged Martinez after being tipped off to his rants on Facebook, and monitored him as he schemed to punish U.S. military forces for what he viewed as attacks on Muslims.

This week's attempt involved a dummy bomb supplied by an undercover agent. The 21-year-old had proposed shooting up the recruiting center, according to court records, but believed he would be unable to obtain a gun because of his criminal record. State court files suggest that his record amounts to a single conviction for theft under $100 in 2008 when he and a friend conspired in February 2008 to steal cash from a Safeway. They approached the register under the guise of buying chips, then snatched money when the cashier opened the cash register drawer.

They were chased by the cashier and manager, who later identified them. He pleaded guilty in March 2008 and was given a 90-day suspended sentence, six months probation and was ordered to pay restitution. According to the state Division of Parole and Probation, Martinez did not pay any of the $160 restitution, and the account was sent to the Central Collection Unit.

Later that same month, Martinez was charged in Prince George's County with car theft, but the charges were later dropped when the victim did not appear in court. In that case, court documents show that the victim, Daniel Tobin, told police that he was outside his Bladensburg apartment when he saw Martinez get into his car, drive it a block away, and park it. Tobin told police that he and a friend apprehended Martinez as he got out of the car, and held him until police arrived.

According to court documents, Martinez had a set of Tobin's car keys, complete with a remote fob. Tobin had previously reported a burglary a few days earlier in which car keys were stolen from his apartment. Martinez admitted to police that he'd used the car to drive to a nearby grocery store, the documents state. In 2006 he was charged with armed robbery and handgun offenses in Montgomery County. The outcome of that charge was unclear, because the court records were sealed. SOURCE: Baltimore Sun

No comments: