(The Center Square) – An engineer accused of two bombings at PG&E transformers in California has pleaded not guilty to federal charges.
Peter Karasev, 36, a U.S. citizen living in San Jose, entered the plea during an arraignment in the Northern District of California. He faces charges of destroying energy facilities and using fire or explosives to commit a federal crime.
Prosecutors indicted Karasev on Oct. 19. They alleged in the indictment that Karasev used homemade explosive devices to destroy two PG&E transformers in San Jose, California. One attack was on Dec. 8, 2022, and the other was Jan. 5, 2023.
“The indictment alleges that Karasev built explosive devices and used them to damage energy facilities, knocking out power to over 1,500 homes and businesses in the San Jose area,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement. “The FBI is laser focused on protecting the essential infrastructure that Americans rely on every day.”
Pacific Gas and Electric Company is one of the largest natural gas and electric energy companies in the U.S. and provides service to about 16 million people.
Prosecutors asked that Karasev be held in jail until his trial. They said that a search of Karasev’s home, where he lived with his partner and their children, contained “enormous amounts of homemade explosive devices.” The garage contained a meth lab. Karasev told investigators he turned to meth during the Adderall shortage. Adderall contains amphetamine mixed salts used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy.
Karasev’s phone led to his arrest. San Jose Police got a “geofence” warrant to identify any active devices in use during a six-minute window of time in which the bombing suspect was captured riding his bicycle on Pronto Drive in San Jose.
Based on the warrant, Google identified only one active device within the targeted area and time period, which was subsequently traced to Karasev, according to the pre-trial detention motion.
Karasev told police he had been having a difficult time because of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. He said he had family in both countries and “compared it to parents getting a divorce,” according to the motion.
“These charges make clear that those who attack our country’s critical infrastructure will be met with the full force of the Justice Department,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said.