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Grovetown man sentenced to federal prison over pipe bomb

James Richard Grates II
James Richard Grates II(WRDW)
Published: Oct. 16, 2020 at 9:52 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - A Grovetown convicted felon has been sentenced to federal prison after pleading guilty to possessing a pipe bomb, according to federal prosecutors.

James Richard Grates II, 36, was sentenced to 84 months in prison by U.S. District Court Chief Judge J. Randal Hall after pleading guilty to possession of an unregistered firearm, a pipe bomb, said Bobby L. Christine, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. After completion of his prison term, Grates must serve three years of supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.

“James Grates has repeatedly demonstrated a breathtaking indifference to other people’s life and safety, including that of his own family,” Christine said in a statement. “At least a term of imprisonment will protect others from his illegal behavior.”

As described in court documents and testimony, in April 2019, personnel from the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office Bomb Squad and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were called to Grates' Grovetown mobile home after being alerted about possible unsafe conditions in the residence. Investigators searched the property and seized homemade explosives made from pipe and black powder and additional materials for constructing pipe bombs, along with a shotgun and two rifles, drugs and drug paraphernalia.

Possession of homemade explosive devices is illegal. In addition, as a previously convicted felon, Grates is prohibited from possessing firearms. Grates faces additional state charges related to the case.

Grates had been previously charged and entered a guilty plea in a 2011 case where his 3-year-old son was killed in a car accident. Grates, investigators said at the time, was under the influence of drugs when he drove into a utility poll on Old Savannah Road

The case was investigated by the ATF, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alejandro V. Pascual IV.

James Grates has been charged in the Grovetown pipe bomb investigation that began at this home. (Source: WRDW)
James Grates has been charged in the Grovetown pipe bomb investigation that began at this home. (Source: WRDW)(WRDW)

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