Suspect in attempted pipe bombing of Dem. chair arrested

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A man from Burghill in Trumbull County is behind bars on $2 million bond, accused of threatening to blow up the law offices of valley attorney Dave Betras.

Mahoning County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Charles Reighard Thursday afternoon at his home on charges of extortion, retaliation and aggravated menacing. He was arraigned Friday in Mahoning County Court in Canfield.

Reighard is charged with felony retaliation, extortion, inducing panic and vandalism. More charges may be filed after the case goes to a grand jury next week.

Police said he tried to throw a device meant to look like a pipe bomb through a plate glass window of Betras’ law office in Canfield earlier this month. Authorities said the device was not explosive and bounced off the window and landed on the ground.

Investigators said Reighard is a former client of Betras and has been sending anonymous threatening letters for years. Betras received an anonymous letter immediately following the incident saying “David, did the pipe boom (bomb) get your attention.” To read the complete letter, click here.

Although the device was not explosive, Betras said the harassment didn’t end there.

“He sent me a letter this week saying he was going to put a bigger bomb when me and my family were going to be there,” Betras said.

Prosecutors asked for a high bond after deputies found more letters and bomb-making materials at Reighard’s house when he was arrested.

“It is pretty evident to all of us involved especially the deputies and the investigators that his actions were escalating over time,” said Assistant Mahoning County Prosecutor Marty Desmond. “We are fearful that based upon the last letter that was sent to Mr. Betras, the defendant was indeed going to take action.”

Betras said he has also received threatening letters from a person he believes was Reighard on Ohio Democratic Party letterhead.

“What concerns us most is that over this time period, it has gone from just words to actions,” Desmond said.

The history between the suspect and victim dates back to 1999 when Reighard was charged with breaking into the Lordstown Assembly plant and driving one car off the line and smashing into a number of others. At the time, he was charged with seven counts of vandalism and Betras said he caused $140,000 in damages.

Court records show Betras managed to plead his client down to a single count of telephone harassment with a sentence of probation, but Reighard was also fired from his job with GM..

“It looks like he is a former client who was mixing in a political message, a disgruntled client message, he went from threatening me to threatening to blow up my entire family,” Betras said.

Mahoning County Sheriff’s Major Jeff Allen said Betras represented Reighard in the 1990’s for a case in which he lost his job at GM Lordstown. He was charged with breaking into the plant and driving a car off the line and smashing into a number of other vehicles, causing $140,000 in damage. Court records show Betras managed to plead the case down to a single count of telephone harassment with a sentence of probation .

Reighard threatened Betras in 2012 and was ordered by a judge to stay away from the attorney.

Then two months ago, the threats allegedly started again. Investigators believe what they found when they searched his home tied him to the latest incident.

“We did find other letters typed with Attorney Betras’ name on it. We did find a fuse. Looks to be like the same fuse used in the non-explosive pipe bomb that was at his office building,” Maj. Allen said.

Deupties also found more pipes, fuses and a threading machine to make more bombs. They believe he also sent a total of three threatening letters to Betras this year, two before the bomb and one after. All were on letterhead from the Ohio Democratic Party.

The bomb was found by an employee of the Canfield law office off U.S. Route 224 on Oct. 16. The Youngstown bomb squad was called in to defuse it.

While it was just a dud, police said it could have caused some major damage if it had just one more ingredient.

“It was a true pipe bomb without the powder inside. From what was being told to me by the Youngstown bomb squad, everything was there except the powder, so it was made right,” Allen said.

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