HAMMOND — A political blogger admitted in federal court his resentments moved him to manufacture and mail a pipe bomb he hoped would kill a local lawyer, but instead exploded last year at an East Chicago post office.
Eric P. Krieg, 46, of Munster, appeared Tuesday before U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen to plead guilty to felony counts of knowingly making an unregistered destructive device, mailing a destructive device, malicious use of explosive materials, and mailing a threatening communication,
Krieg took responsibility Tuesday for the pipe bombing incident as well as sending a threatening letter to a Hammond city employee with whom he had exchanged contentious political posts.
The judge took under advisement Krieg's guilty pleas and his agreement with the U.S. Attorney's office to impose a 29-year prison term on Kreig, a former Whiting refinery engineer and the father of four children. The sentencing date is April 4.
"Mr. Krieg’s guilty plea is a reflection of the outstanding work by our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners in solving this horrific crime, " U.S. Attorney Thomas Kirsch II said afterwards. "Mr. Krieg’s egregious, retaliatory conduct put several lives at risk. Under the terms of his plea agreement he will be punished severely. Criminal conduct like Mr. Krieg’s will never be tolerated."
Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. attended the plea hearing along with his brother Aaron McDermott, as did victims in the case, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Chang.
The judge invited the victims to make statements if they chose, but Chang said they would put off their comments until the spring sentencing.
Krieg became known publicly for unsuccessful campaigns in 2010 for Lake County Council and 2012 for Lake County surveyor. He was also known for authoring political commentaries on social media between 2012 and 2017 under the pen name Buzzcut, a reference to the closely cropped hair he once sported.
However, Krieg now has nearly shoulder length brown hair and a full mustache and beard. He was dressed in orange coveralls emblazoned with the words "Porter County Jail."
The judge asked Krieg if he understood the court proceedings because he underwent a psychiatric evaluation during his jail confinement. Krieg said he is taking medicine for manic depression, but understood what was going on in court.
About five years ago, Krieg attacked Aaron McDermott in a social media post. Aaron McDermott sued and forced Krieg to pay him $45,000 and make an online apology.
Krieg admitted in the written plea agreement he signed several days ago, he retaliated for the suit by constructing a pipe bomb capable of maiming or killing and placed it in a package addressed to an attorney who won Aaron McDermott's suit.
Krieg told the judge he built and delivered the bomb Sept. 6, 2017, to the U.S. Post Office at 901 E. Chicago Ave., East Chicago. It prematurely detonated at the post office, injuring a postal worker, who was pregnant at the time, and damaging the facility.
The U.S. attorney's office hasn't identified either the lawyer Krieg targeted or the postal worker injured.
Krieg then mailed a threatening letter Sept. 29, 2017, to Dave Hein, a Hammond city employee, with whom Krieg was feuding with on social media since 2013.
Hein said Tuesday following the court hearing that the envelope contained a bullet with a message, "The next one will be in the back of your head."
Federal authorities arrested Krieg two weeks later, following an investigation by: the United States Postal Inspection Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, the United States Marshal’s Service, the East Chicago Police; Hammond Police; Indiana State Police; Munster Police; and the Porter County Sheriff’s Department.