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Synagogue Bomb Suspect Pleads Not Guilty To 4 Felony Counts, Up To 70 Years If Convicted

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Ron Hirsch (AP Photo/Santa Monica Police Department, File)
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60-year-old Ron Hirsch, the transient suspected in an April blast that sent a 250-pound metal pipe encased in concrete crashing through a roof next to the Santa Monica Chabad House and into a home where a 12-year-old girl was sleeping, pleaded not guilty in Los Angeles federal court on Monday to four federal felony charges that could send him to prison for up to 70 years if convicted, reports the Daily News.The indictment accuses Hirsch of four federal felonies: use of an explosive to damage property, use of an explosive to commit a federal felony, use of a destructive device during and in relation to a crime of violence, and possession of an unregistered destructive device.

Notes the L.A. Times:

A federal search warrant said Hirsch purchased three 11-pound bags of a "demolition agent" on April 1 in Clovis. The package was sent to Hirsch at a Santa Monica address, a link that was established by a receipt found at the scene, officials said. In addition, federal investigators found plumbing tape, empty dry ice bags, five pieces of rebar, bags of cement and a steel pipe wrench, the warrant said.

Hirsch, seemingly unclear on the process of the court proceedings, prompted U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick J. Walsh to offer a short explanation of a citizen's right defend (or not defend) himself, telling the defendant, "You can sit on your hands during the trial and if the government hasn't proven its case, you win." When asked if he understood, Hirsch replied, "I do, your honor," adding that the attorney he expected to be there had not appeared and was absent from the court, notes Santa Monica Patch.

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After fleeing LA by bus to Ohio, Hirsch, who sometimes uses the aliases Ronald Jay Fisher and Israel Fisher, was taken into custody by Cleveland authorities on April 11. He was returned to Los Angeles on April 22 via the U.S. Marshals Service and has been held without bond per a U.S. magistrate judge.

In addition to the federal indictment charges, Hirsch faces the following four felony charges, that carry a possible life prison term, brought by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office last month: explosion with intent to murder, use of a destructive device and explosive to injure or destroy, possession of a destructive device near a public place, and possession of a destructive device near a residence, notes the Daily News.

A hearing is scheduled later in the day to discuss Hirsch's legal representation and a trial schedule.