Posted 1/6/2010 03:57 pm
Updated 2 years ago
Dr. Randeep Mann, the Pope County physician who was charged with federal firearms violations last year, has also been indicted by a Little Rock grand jury in connection with the car bombing of a West Memphis physician 11 months ago.
U.S. Attorney Jane Duke of the Eastern District of Arkansas announced Wednesday afternoon that three new charges had been added to the existing indictment against Mann, 51, and his wife, Sangeeta Mann, 48. The first two, which became counts one and two of the superseding indictment, charge that Randeep Mann "aided and abetted by a person and persons unknown to the Grand Jury" used "a weapon of mass destruction" to destroy a white 2005 Lexus on Feb. 4, 2009.
The Lexus was that of Dr. Trent Pierce, chairman of the Arkansas State Medical Board, who was gravely injured and lost an eye when the bomb was detonated in his driveway.
The third new count added to seven existing charges alleges that Mann possessed chloroform - "a prohibited object" - during his confinement at the Pulaski County Regional Detention Facility. He has been in federal custody since March 4, the day after London city employees discovered a canister of grenades in a wooded area near the Manns' house, and the chloroform was discovered by U.S. Marshals during a search of his cell on Sept. 4.
Randeep Mann had been interviewed by agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives on the day of the car bombing. His prescription drug privileges had been suspended by the Medical Board that Pierce chairs, and Duke described the bombing as a retaliatory crime against Pierce for his service on the board.
The indictment does not describe any evidence that prosecutors plan to use to prove Mann's involvement in the bombing. But in a press release, Duke said "diligent efforts" by ATF investigators and analysts "uncovered the evidence needed to charge the individual we believe to have been responsible for perpetrating this violent crime."
"We hope this begins to bring some closure for Dr. Pierce," said Phillip Durham, special agent in charge of the regional ATF office in New Orleans.
The car bombing charge carries a sentence of up to life in prison.
No new charges against Sangeeta Mann were included in the indictment. She is charged with obstruction of justice and with lying to the grand jury. A trial for the couple is set to start March 15, but Sangeeta Mann has requested a separate trial. She is free on bond while her husband has been held without bond.
The press conference in the U.S. Attorney's office in downtown Little Rock attended by a group of two dozen dominated by law enforcement officials and members of the press. Officials declined to comment on how many others might be charged with aiding Mann. Duke declined to share few additional details beyond the indictment and prepared statement, citing the case as an ongoing investigation.