Nov. 23, 2010 -- A California man accused of robbing banks and assembling what may be the largest cache of homemade explosives ever found in the U.S. was ordered held on $5 million bail Monday.
George Djura Jakubec, a 54-year-old unemployed software engineer, pleaded not guilty to two bank robbery charges, 12 felony counts of possessing destructive devices and 14 counts of possessing ingredients to make destructive devices. He faces up to 40 years in prison.
Prosecutors say that eight pounds of the homemade explosive HMTD was found after a gardener was seriously injured in an explosion on Jakubec's property near Escondido last week. Federal and local officials also say they found nine detonators and 13 unfilled homemade grenades with attached shrapnel.
San Diego County Deputy D.A. Terri Perez called the discovery a "bomb factory" and said it was "the largest quantity of these types of homemade explosives at one place in the United States."
"He had the makings of a bomb lab," said Perez. "He had precursors to making these explosives. He had detonators, he had grenades and so essentially he could make these destructive devices, and had completed several of them."
Federal authorities said the HMTD discovered had the explosive power of several of the devices used in the London subway bombing of 2005, which killed 52 people. Explosives experts found the HMTD in jars, and buried them in the ground on Friday to detonate them, closing the southbound lanes of Interstate 15 for about three hours for motorists' safety.
Authorities also allege they found PETN, the powder explosive used in the recent cargo bombing plot, by the failed "shoe bomber" in 2001 and allegedly by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in the unsuccessful attempt to bring down Northwest flight 253 with an underwear bomb last Christmas.
Bank Robberies In San Diego Area
Authorities also say they disovered dye packs and wigs on the property. According to Deputy D.A. Perez, Jakubec robbed banks in San Diego County on June 25 and July 17, and got away with a "substantial amount" of money.
San Diego police reported a robbery at a Bank of America in the Sorrento Valley on June 25 that was first believed to be the work of the so-called "Geezer Bandit."
The suspect, who wore a Halloween-style old man mask, handed a teller a demand note and escaped with cash, according to San Diego police. On July 17, another local Bank of America branchwas robbed by a gray-haired, clean shaven man about 5'8", wearing a floppy straw hat and sunglasses, police said.
Jakubec's wife Marina, from whom he had recently separated, told the San Diego Union-Tribune that her Serbian-born husband had lost his job three years ago and she believes he had become unbalanced. "I am afraid for my husband's mental state," she said. "He's not well."
She told the paper that Jakubec had allegedly purchased chemicals and electronics with money she had earned, but she did not know what it was for.
According to court records, Jakubec was on probation after pleading guilty to shoplifting at an electronics store last year.
The gardener who stepped on the explosive material, 49-year-old Mario Garcia, suffered injuries to his left eye, left arm and chest.
Jakubec's court-appointed public defender did not immediately respond to a request for comment.