Bouquet Bomb Mastermind Sentenced
Feb. 20, 1988
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ A real estate magnate was sentenced to 15 years in prison Friday for sending his estranged wife a bomb in a flower basket that injured her and a co-worker.
Peter Pilaski, 54, received the same sentence given to his homosexual lover, 28-year-old Shaun Small, who testified Pilaski supervised the bomb's construction and had him deliver the device in a bellhop's uniform.
Pilaski was convicted in December of conspiracy, making and possesing a bomb, and aiding and abetting in an explosion that damaged federal property and caused personal injury.
Melanie Pilaski, 42, and a co-worker were injured in when the bomb, hidden in a basket of dried flowers, exploded at a U.S. General Services Administration building.
The German-born Pilaski, speaking in a heavy accent, maintained his innocence and told U.S. District Judge Robert Schnacke the only time he saw the bomb used in the 1986 attack was when the government displayed a replica at his trial.
''I never wanted to hurt my wife. I still don't. ... I have a lot of feeling for her. I still do,'' he said as his voice cracked and tears filled his eyes.
He said the prosecution drew a distorted picture of him ''as a cold-blooded murderer.''
Small had testified Pilaski suggested that he make the bomb and gave him detailed instructions about its delivery to Mrs. Pilaski, who had filed for divorce a month earlier after 20 years of marriage.
Small, who had donned a wig, heavy makeup and a uniform to deliver the bouquet, was convicted of using a bomb to damage federal property and cause personal injury.
Defense attorney Paul Higaki Jr. said Pilaski will appeal.
Pilaski could have received up to 45 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Assistant U.S. Attorney John Lyons had asked for a 20-year sentence, arguing Pilaski played a bigger role in the bombing.
Higaki said that parole authorities can review both men's sentences and release them at any time, but that Pilaski might not survive any substantial term because of health problems that include a heart condition.
Small had testified that Pilaski had become increasingly hostile toward his wife's drug use and alcoholism, that he vowed that she would regret her decision to seek a divorce and that he ordered Small to assemble a bomb.
Pilaski was an impoverished West German seaman in 1955 when he immigrated to the United States, sponsored by Small's parents. He made a fortune in real estate and hired Small, then a teen-ager, as an apartment manager in 1976.
Mrs. Pilaski testified that Pilaski and Small had been lovers and went on regular cocaine binges, and that her husband's relationship with Small contributed to the breakup of their marriage.