Guilty plea entered in bomb case

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The Guadalupe County Communicator

An Albuquerque man will serve three years of probation after pleading guilty this week to charges related to a homemade bomb that destroyed a portable toilet at Conchas Lake and another device found unexploded in Santa Rosa’s Blue Hole.

Todd M. Parey, 43, entered a plea and disposition agreement on Tuesday in San Miguel County District Court in Las Vegas, pleading guilty to two felony counts of dangerous use of explosives in exchange for prosecutors dropping related counts of possession of an explosive or incendiary device and criminal damage to property.

The case began on Monday afternoon, April 1, after witnesses reported hearing an explosion at Conchas State Park and seeing a cloud of smoke rising above the north camping area. A portable toilet had been completely destroyed, with debris scattered over 30 yards from the site of the blast.

State police arrived and began looking for a black Infiniti sedan that witnesses saw leaving the area around the time of the explosion, and within about an hour officers stopped a vehicle matching the description on State Road 104 near Conchas Lake.

The driver, Parey, was questioned and reportedly admitted to being responsible, saying he “liked messing around with explosives and did not intend to hurt anyone,” a State Police spokesman said in the initial report.

He was arrested and charged with dangerous use of explosives and two other charges. But only after he was in custody and the case was publicized was a second alleged crime discovered.

Three days later, on April 4, The Communicator’s publisher M.E. Sprengelmeyer was swimming at the Blue Hole when he saw a round object resting on a ledge about seven feet underwater, pointed it out to dive shop operator Stella Salazar, and then swam down to retrieve it. The item was the size and shape of an extra-large avocado, wrapped in black electrical tape with a fuse sticking out of one end.

The swimmer carried it out of the Blue Hole, walked to the edge of the parking lot and placed it on a concrete slab before calling police. A State Police bomb squad technician later used a remotely-controlled water cannon to blow it apart and render it harmless.

After four months of additional investigation, prosecutors added a second charge of dangerous use of explosives to Parey’s case, related to the Guadalupe County find.

Based on the felony counts, he could have faced up to three years of imprisonment and/or fines of $5,000. Instead, under the plea and disposition agreement, Parey gave up his right to a jury trial, will pay $475 of restitution to the State of New Mexico for the destruction of the toilet at Conchas Lake, and will be placed on probation for three years.

Parey could not be reached for comment on Wednesday. His defense attorney, William Cooley, did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.