A man suspected of planting a half-dozen pipe bombs in Palm Springs — several of them near a former girlfriend’s residence — is facing a new set of charges that could result in a 20-year prison sentence, a federal prosecutor said today.
Edward Allen Costa, 47, was indicted last week on one count each of being a felon in possession of a firearm and a felon in possession of ammunition obtained through interstate commerce.
Costa pleaded not guilty to both charges and is scheduled to be tried in August.
Costa was charged earlier this month with possessing an unregistered destructive device in connection with a multi-agency investigation that uncovered evidence the Desert Hot Springs man had allegedly manufactured and placed pipe bombs within close proximity to his former girlfriend’s Palm Springs residence.
However, the explosives charge was dropped, and Costa was instead indicted for the other felonies, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Widman.
Widman declined to elaborate on the reasons for not pursuing the bomb charge and referred to the indictment to justify the other charges, which allege Costa was in possession of 105 rounds of shotgun and pistol ammunition and a .357 Magnum revolver.
“His statutory maximum sentence is 20 years if convicted on both counts,” Widman told City News Service.
U.S. Magistrate Judge David Bristow set Costa’s bail at $60,000, but he hasn’t posted it and remains in federal custody.
The first pipe bomb was found on May 9, four more on May 10 and another on May 12, according to Palm Springs police.
U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Agent Adam Rudolph testified during a June 8 detention hearing for Costa that during a search of his residence, federal agents discovered four marijuana plants, a flare gun, 20 to 30 12-gauge shotgun shells, gunpowder and a metal end-cap.
Costa also had a small quantity of methamphetamine in his pocket, according to Rudolph.
The agent testified some of the material was similar to that used in the pipe bombs.
A woman told police on May 10 that Costa, her daughter’s former boyfriend, “was manufacturing the devices because she had seen PVC piping at his residence on numerous occasions,” according to an affidavit filed by Clinton Kehr, a BATF agent.
When authorities went to Costa’s house on Pomelo Drive in Desert Hot Springs on May 11, they saw blue pipe glue near the front door, according to Kehr.
Deputy Federal Public Defender Jeffrey Aaron said his client worked for a construction company, laying pipe and doing plumbing work, explaining why some of the suspicious items were kept at the house.
Costa has two prior convictions in the 1990s for receiving stolen property, according to court documents.