Gregory Lepsky, 20, of Point Pleasant, New Jersey, pleaded guilty Tuesday to a charge him of one count of attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization.
Lepsky admitted that he planned to construct and use a pressure cooker bomb in New York on behalf of ISIS.
Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers and U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced the plea which was accepted by U.S. District Court Judge Michael Shipp.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
On Feb. 21, 2017, Lepsky was arrested by the Point Pleasant Police Department in connection with an incident that occurred that day in his family’s home.
(See video for further details of initial statements to police following who were called for Lepsky’s slashing a family dog because in Lepsky’s view of Islam, it was dirty – which led to additional threats to use a pressure cooker to bomb New York City. Courtesy of CBS New York and YouTube. Posted on May 5, 2017)
Following the arrest, law enforcement officers searched the residence and found a new pressure cooker stored behind a roll of bubble wrap in Lepsky’s bedroom closet.
During searches of computers and other digital evidence linked to Lepsky, law enforcement officers found evidence of Lepsky’s plan to build and detonate a bomb as part of his support for ISIS.
During several social media communications, Lepsky told others that he intended to fight on behalf of ISIS and that he would, if necessary, become a martyr by driving a “bunch of explosives” to where the “enemies” could be found and blowing himself up.
Law enforcement officers also located a series of instructions that had been published online by another terrorist group that gave specific, step-by-step instructions on how to build a pressure cooker bomb, which coincided with the delivery of the pressure cooker to Lepsky a short time before his arrest.
Additionally, law enforcement officers recovered a message forwarded by Lepsky from another ISIS supporter stating that if a westerner could not travel to Syria to fight for ISIS, he could conduct a terrorist attack in his home country using improvised explosive devices.
During Tuesday’s plea hearing, Lepsky admitted that beginning in January 2017, he began to formulate a plan to detonate the pressure cooker bomb in New York City on behalf of ISIS.
Lepsky admitted that he used the internet to access ISIS directives, obtain bomb-making instructions, and purchase the pressure cooker and other items to be used in the attack.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, if accepted by the Court, Lepsky will be given a sentence between 16 and 19 years in prison and a lifetime term of supervised release.
Assistant Attorney General Demers and U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited the following law enforcement agencies for the investigation:
- FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher in Newark;
- The N.J. State Attorney General’s Office under the direction of Attorney General Gurbir Grewal
- The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Joseph Coronato
- The Point Pleasant Police Department under the direction of Chief Richard P. Larsen, and
- The N.J. Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness under the direction of Director Jared Maples
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney James Donnelly for the District of New Jersey and Trial Attorney Justin Sher of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.