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Berkeley Man Sentenced for Possessing Destructive Device

Julia Cheever (BCN)
Friday March 15, 2013 - 05:37:00 PM

A man who was found to be storing a gun and apparent bomb-making materials in his Berkeley home in 2009 has been sentenced in U.S. District Court in Oakland to two years and three months in prison for two federal criminal counts.  

Emoru Oboke Obbanya, 31, was sentenced Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken.  

He pleaded guilty before Wilken in September to one count of possessing a destructive device -- namely, a flare gun that had been converted into a handgun -- and one count of possessing a gun without a serial number. 

The loaded, converted handgun and bomb-making materials, including what appeared to be a homemade explosive, were found by Berkeley police in a search of the home Obbanya shared with his parents on Grizzly Peak Boulevard on July 18, 2009, according to court documents. 

Police were responding to a 911 call in which the caller hung up before completing the call. Obbanya later said he accidentally dialed 911 when trying to call his father, whose cellphone number began with the numbers 918. 

Obbanya was originally charged in the state court system, but the case was transferred to federal court after he was indicted on the U.S. charges. 

Both prosecution and defense lawyers said in sentencing briefs that Obbanya had mental health issues and apparently had assembled the gun and explosives because he planned to commit suicide. 

Prosecutors wrote that Obbanya "committed serious crimes," but apparently with the goal of harming himself rather than others.  

Assistant Federal Public Defender Joyce Leavitt wrote that Obbanya's outlook has now improved and that he has taught himself computer programming and hopes to pursue a career in information technology after his release. 

The sentence of two years and three months was agreed to by both sides as part of the plea bargain.