(Omaha, NE) -- An investigation into an Omaha man in connection to a string of pipe bomb vandalism incidents is now a federal case.
Last Friday, 23 year old Kalem Barber was arrested by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and FBI in relation to numerous pipe bomb explosions, which had been reported over the last few months. On Tuesday, Barber had his initial appearance before a federal judge where he was charged with unlawful possession of a destructive device and unlawful distribution of explosive materials to someone younger than age 21. If convicted, each charge brings a $250,000 fine and a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Barber is being released ahead of his trial, but the judge told him, “Just because you’re being released, which is being recommended by pre-trial services, doesn’t mitigate how serious these allegations are. I will tell you that if there are any problems whatsoever with your compliance with these conditions, you can count on coming back to court and not being released again.” Prosecutors sought detention since the charges are significant and involve dangerous devices. Barber was arrested while armed and he had firearms in his home. The defense argued to allow his release because Barber would live at his grandmother’s house and that he promised to obtain and maintain employment.
The judge acknowledged that the charges involve serious threats to the community but that Congress mandates a release if reasonable conditions are set to assure future court appearances and safety of the community. He cited several reasons for the release including the fact that Barber had no prior criminal history other than minor traffic and ordinance violations, he can be employed and has ties to the community. Barber must also provide DNA samples if requested, appear at all court proceedings, must actively seek or maintain employment, he can’t leave Nebraska without pre-approval and must avoid all contact with any victim or witnesses.