Three Rock Springs men have been sentenced for unlawful possession of pipe bombs.

One of the men also got prison time for the distribution of meth, according to a news release from acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas Vassallo.

The case dates back to February 14, 2021, when Rock Springs Police tried to stop a vehicle driven by 51-year-old Spencer Cottrell. Cottrell tried to get away when police activated their lights, but he crashed his truck into a snowbank.

A search of his vehicle turned up an improvised pipe bomb. Investigators soon found out that Cottrell's cousin, 39-year old Bryan Foster, had made four pipe bombs for Cottrell.

Two more bombs were found at the home of 31-year-old Gage Mercer. According to the release, Foster was indicted in May of 2021 for illegally making a pipe bomb and unlawful possesion of pipe bombs. The bombs are considered destructive devices under federal law. Cottrell and Mercer were seperately indicted for unlawful possession of pipe bombs, and Cottrell was charged with three counts of meth distribution for sales of the drug in early 2020.

On Feb. 18, 2022 Mercer pled guilty to illegal possession of pipe bombs. federal Judge Alan Johnson sentenced him to 35 months in prison with three years of supervised release. he was also ordered to pay a total of $600 in fines and assessments.

Cottrell pled guilty to the pipe bomb and meth charges on July 7, 2022. Johnson sentenced him to 121 months in prison with four years of supervised reelase to follow. He was also ordered to pay a total of $700 in fines and assessments.

Foster pled guilty to the illegal manufacture of a pipe bomb on Oct. 18, 2022 and was sentenced by Johnson to 36 months in prison and three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay a $100 special assessment.

Accordinf to the release:“Through the cooperative efforts of local, state and federal law enforcement, these destructive devices were secured before the defendants could cause serious harm,” said Acting United States Attorney Nick Vassallo. “These defendants demonstrated a disregard for life and safety, and their sentences reflect the seriousness of their criminal conduct.”

“Sometimes the most effective response to stop those plotting violence is a team approach -- for the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, alongside state and local law enforcement, to come together and leverage our investigative and prosecutorial methods,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Matthew Fodor. “We are always available, ready and willing to assist our local law enforcement partners and bring to bear FBI resources to get bad actors off the streets.”

"It is important to recognize that this case began as a traffic stop. This officer's ability to quickly recognize the threat is commendable. The work that our staff completed following that traffic stop embodies the commitment we have to a safer community. We appreciate our federal partners, and the resources they were able to provide during this investigation. The professionalism of all involved is reflected in the successful outcome," said Interim Rock Springs Police Chief Bill Erspamer.

These crimes were investigated by the Rock Springs Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation with assistance from Sweetwater County Joint EOD Team and the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Timothy J. Forwood.''

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