Fireworks Expert Pleads Guilty in Abortion Clinic Bombing
NEW YORK (AP) _ A fireworks expert described by authorities as an anti-abortion zealot pleaded guilty to charges he dynamited an abortion clinic and tried to bomb another one.
Dennis John Malvasi, 37, admitted in U.S. District Court on Friday that he detonated a bomb at a clinic in Manhattan early on Oct. 29. Three passersby suffered minor injuries from flying glass in the explosion.
Malvasi, a pyrotechnics expert who worked on the Statue of Liberty centennial fireworks display last year, also admitted putting three sticks of dynamite set to go off at 2:20 a.m. behind a couch at a Queens clinic Nov. 11.
When it did not explode, said Malvasi, he called authorities to warn them.
″You intended to have it go off?″ asked U.S. District Judge Thomas P. Griesa.
″Absolutely, your honor,″ said Malvasi.
He also pleaded guilty to making a telephone bomb threat regarding the Manhattan clinic.
Malvasi surrendered Feb. 24 after a televised appeal from Cardinal John O’Connor. Agents of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms said Malvasi, a Catholic, told them, ″It’s hard to turn down the cardinal.″
Malvasi, who has been jailed without bail since his arrest, could receive up to 25 years in prison and fines totaling $750,000 at sentencing July 10.
In entering his plea, Malvasi told the judge he went to the Manhattan clinic, the Eastern Women’s Center, ″put three sticks of dynamite behind a flower (pot) and it blew up.″
He said the bomb was timed to go off at 2:30 a.m. when nobody was in the building.
Malvasi had planned to plead guilty to making a telephone threat in December at another Manhattan clinic, but a snag developed when he explained to the judge that he called the bomb squad to let them know about the device.
″I told the officer in charge just clip any wire he wants and it would neutralize it,″ said Malvasi. He said he later called police back to appologize.
″This isn’t a threat,″ said an annoyed Griesa. ″It’s not a threat in any plain sense of the word. Why are we involved in this kind of artificiality?″
After a brief huddle, Assistant U.S. Attorney Elliot Jacobson and defense attorney Roland Thau agreed that Malvasi would plead guilty instead to a threat concerning the Eastern Women’s Center.
Jacobson told the judge Malvasi also has agreed to plead guilty at a later date to a federal charge in Florida of fraudulently obtaining firearms, which carries a maximum five-year sentence and $5,000 fine.
O’Connor was in meetings Friday and unavailable for comment, said Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York.