A Point Pleasant, New Jersey, man will appear in federal court today to face allegations that he planned to construct and use a pressure cooker bomb in support of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick and Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Dana Boente announced.
Gregory Lepsky, 20, is charged by criminal complaint with one count of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, specifically ISIS. Lepsky is expected to make his initial appearance this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Leda Dunn Wettre in Newark federal court.
According to the complaint:
On Feb. 21, 2017, Lepsky was arrested by the Point Pleasant Police Department in connection with an incident that occurred that day in his family’s home. Following the arrest, law enforcement officers searched the residence and found a new pressure cooker stored behind a roll of bubble wrap in Lepsky’s bedroom closet.
During searches of computers and other digital evidence linked to Lepsky, law enforcement found evidence of Lepsky’s plan to build and detonate a bomb as part of his support for ISIS. During several social media communications, Lepsky told others that he intended to fight on behalf of ISIS, and that he would, if necessary, become a martyr by driving a “bunch of explosives” to where the “enemies” could be found and blowing himself up.
Law enforcement also located a series of instructions that had been published online by another terrorist group that gave specific, step-by-step instructions on how to build a pressure cooker bomb, which coincided with the delivery of the pressure cooker to Lepsky a short time before his arrest. In addition, law enforcement recovered a message forwarded by Lepsky from another ISIS supporter stating that if a westerner could not travel to Syria to fight for ISIS, he could conduct a terrorist attack in his home country using improvised explosive devices.
The material support charge carries a maximum potential penalty of up to 20 years in prison and $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.
Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick credited the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher in Newark; the N.J. State Attorney General’s Office under the direction of Attorney General Christopher Porrino; the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Joseph Coronato; the Point Pleasant Police Department under the direction of Chief Richard P. Larsen; and the N.J. Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness under the direction of Director Chris Rodriguez, with the investigation leading to the charges. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney James Donnelly of the U.S. Attorney’s Office National Security Unit in Newark and Justin Sher and B. Celeste Corlett, Trial Attorneys of the Department of Justice, National Security Division-Counterterrorism Section.
The charge and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Photo: Pressure cooker bomb in 2016 NYC bombing, NYPD.