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Suspect Pleads Guilty in NC Bombing

December 7, 1999

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) _ An electronic repairman pleaded guilty Monday to detonating bombs at two Lowe’s Home Improvement Stores in September and extorting $250,000 from the chain.

Prosecutors said George Matos Rocha, 51, was seeking revenge for a 1998 arrest for switching labels on merchandise at a Greensboro store in an effort to get the goods for less money.

He pleaded guilty to five counts and will be held without bond until his sentencing on March 9. He faces up to life in prison and fines of $1.25 million.

``He wanted to get it over with, and the government had a very powerful case against him,″ said his attorney, Greg Davis. ``He basically realized there was no way out.″

Rocha is hoping to receive the minimum sentence for his crimes, 37 years in prison.

Lowe’s spokesman Brian Peace said employees were pleased.

``It (the plea) was a very pleasant surprise,″ he said, adding that Lowe’s has reclaimed the $250,000 it sent to a Latvian bank account controlled by Rocha.

Bombs exploded minutes apart Sept. 22 at Lowe’s stores in Asheboro and Salisbury. The Asheboro blast seriously injured one woman. Six days later, a bomb was found at a Concord store, but it didn’t detonate.

Rocha was arrested Nov. 12 and charged with two counts of using explosives to damage or destroy property; possession of a destructive device during the commission of a crime; extortion; and mailing threatening communications.

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