Woman Faces Long Stretch for Explosives

     HOUSTON (CN) – A 31-year-old woman who fired warning shots at utility workers when they came to turn off her water, and whose husband then killed a sheriff’s deputy, and himself, pleaded guilty to manufacturing 122 improvised explosive devices, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
     Pamela Leggett of Anahuac, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to illegally receive, make and possess unregistered firearms and destructive devices and to aiding and abetting possession of an unlawful machine gun, federal prosecutors said.
     Anahuac, pop. 2,100, is about 40 miles east of Houston.
     The charges stem from a July 13, 2009 altercation at Leggett’s home, prosecutors said.
     “On that morning, two utility workers arrived at the residence to turn off the water for non-payment of the utility bill, at which time Leggett fired two shots in their direction, telling them to get off the property,” prosecutors said in the statement.
     “The utility workers immediately dialed 911. Four officers immediately responded, one of which was aware that a man, woman and child resided at the home. The officers approached the front door, knocked and announced themselves to be police.
     “When no one responded, one of the deputies loudly ordered they open the door or police would force entry. No one responded. Shortly thereafter, Leggett opened the front door and exited the home, at which time a deputy saw a weapon tucked into her waistband which he soon confiscated.
     “According to court records, deputies, concerned there was a child present and for potential safety, entered the home.
     “Hearing rustling noises, the officers continued to announce they were the police and to come out, when suddenly, shots were fired through a wall and a deputy was immediately struck twice in the head and killed. A flurry of gunfire was exchanged and law enforcement withdrew from the house, dragging the deputy with them.”
     More police arrived and surrounded the home during a 10-hour stand off, according to The Anahuac Progress newspaper.
     “Eventually,” prosecutors said, “a front end loader was utilized to tear down a wall of the home and police observed a man inside with a fatal gunshot wound to his head. A subsequent autopsy concluded that the cause of his death was a self inflicted gunshot to the head.”
     Police found an assault rifle next to the body of Leggett’s common-law husband, Gilbert Ortez Jr., The Progress reported.
     “A search warrant was later executed on the home where 122 improvised explosive devices, stores of precursor chemicals for making explosives, a guide book on explosives assembly, a machine gun, an illegal short barrel rifle and three illegal silencers, along with assorted other weapons were discovered,” prosecutors said in the statement. “Records revealed Leggett was the person responsible for ordering many of the precursor chemicals used to assemble the destructive devices.”
     Leggett’s fingerprint was found on tape attached to one of the homemade bombs, prosecutors said.
     Police also traced paperwork to find Leggett had purchased the short barrel rifle, and the gun that was converted to a machine gun, prosecutors said.
     Leggett faces up to 10 years on the machine gun possession charge, and another 5 years on the conspiracy charge at her June 29 sentencing.
     Both convictions also carry a possible $250,000 fine.

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