TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The Rusk County man who authorities say placed 29 explosive devices in mailboxes around East Texas last April, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 87 months in federal court Tuesday morning.
53-year-old Larry Eugene North, pleaded guilty to possession of an illegal firearm or destructive device, use of a weapon of mass destruction and obstruction of mail.
North's defense asked for a sentence of just 14 months and cited poor mental and physical health as well as motive. That request was denied. His attorney, Kenneth Hawk, said, "we acknowledge the conduct as criminal," but asked the judge to consider North's story when deciding on a sentence.
North told the court he thinks he lost close to 1 million dollars when a bank where he kept his savings closed. North said he believed an executive at the bank was corrupt and spent thousands of dollars in North's name without his consent. North told the court the money in that savings account was from a work settlement and all he had to live on. He said the settlement followed an injury that left him paralyzed. He said his frustration that the government did not listen to him or help him retrieve his savings drove him to commit the crimes.
Former ATF Agent Larry Smith remembered following North the day he was arrested.
"By the time we got to Lake Tyler Bridge on 64 East and I caught up with him, we saw him deposit what we believed to be a pipe bomb," Smith said. "We later determined it to be a pipe bomb in the mail receptacle there in the parking lot".
Smith said he remembers North's statement at the arrest.
"He does have a sad story. Does that give him an excuse to do what he did? No, it doesn't, but at the same time you can understand, somewhat, what his thinking was even though it may be a little warped, as to why he was doing this," Smith said.
Troup City Manager Jed Dillingham remembers when one of North's pipe bombs was found outside the Troup Post Office.
"The police department and fire department helped to secure the area about a block in each direction. Then the bomb squad arrived," Dillingham said.
Dillingham said he trusts the judicial system gave North a proper sentencing, especially since the bomb found in Troup was a dud.
And that wasn't the only one-- in court, KLTV learned some of North's bombs were full of cereal instead of gun powder.
"There was no evidence to show anyway that he ever intended to purposely hurt anyone even though his actions could have hurt or killed people," said Smith. However, Smith repeatedly said North's actions were still criminal and deserved punishment.
North's attorney said he had no complaints about the judge's ruling on North's sentence.
North's family declined to comment.