U.P. man cleared of bomb charge


For The Daily News

ESCANABA – A bomb charge has been dismissed against a 28-year-old Rapid River man accused of attempting to make an explosive device last spring.

James Lee Bugg was scheduled to be tried in January in Delta County Circuit Court on one count of attempted possession/manufacture of an explosive or incendiary device with malicious intent. He was arrested in June for allegedly attempting to make a bomb on May 25 in Rapid River.

During a motions hearing in circuit court, defense attorney Russ Hall made a case for the court to dismiss the charge because there was no evidence proving the defendant took action to prepare a bomb.

Testimony during a preliminary examination in district court in July revealed Bugg had four empty fire extinguishers and firecrackers in his room and black powder was found in another part of the home. His mother testified when she asked her son about the extinguishers, he told her they would make “good bombs.”

Assistant Prosecutor Philip Strom said the evidence could be viewed as an attempt to possess or manufacture an explosive device and that it would be up to a jury to decide if the defendant was gathering materials for making a bomb.

Strom also noted there was evidence Bugg had made bombs in the past and he had commented on Facebook that the Boston Bomber stole his idea.

Bugg allegedly made threats on the Internet to build an explosive device to attempt to harm people at a public venue, according to previous testimony.

Circuit Court Judge Stephen Davis said the black powder found in another area of the house should be taken out of the picture because it has no ties with the defendant.

Quoting from similar court cases, Davis said a defendant’s action must be more than preparation such as a direct movement leading to the immediate completion of the crime.

“The attempt must be clear,” added the judge.

Davis said there was not sufficient evidence showing the defendant was close to succeeding in possessing or manufacturing a bomb.

The judge quashed the charge, dismissing the case because the evidence presented was not enough to show probable cause the crime had been committed.

The defendant was released from jail and his $50,000 bond was lifted.

Bugg had been serving time in jail since June 7 when he was arrested by Michigan State Police from the Gladstone Post. Troopers were assisted in the investigation by FBI and ATF officers.

Bugg faced a maximum sentencing of seven and a half years in prison due to a second offense habitual offender notice which would have upped the maximum punishment.