Richard Sandberg tries to trade bombs for cocaine, gets prison instead
When we check back in with past Schmucks of the Week, we always hope the news is good. But that's not the case very often.
Take Richard Sandberg. Back in January 2013, when we first made his acquaintance, he was accused of trying to swap bombs for cocaine or cash from a seemingly benign setting -- a suburban Jefferson County neighborhood. Just over a year later, he's received a sentence of four years-plus for doing just that. Get the schmucky details below.
As we've reported, a Sandburg affidavit on view below credits a confidential informant with revealing to law enforcers that he'd been to Sandberg's residence, located on the 4600 block of South Swadley Way, early last year -- and during his visit, he'd eyeballed numerous firearms and hand grenades. Moreover, Sandberg reportedly wanted to trade the gadgets for nose candy.
Sandberg's home as seen in a Google View image that also captured him in his driveway, shirtless.
To confirm this supposition, an ATF agent working undercover reached out to Sandberg via the informant. During a phone conversation between the two of them, Sandberg claimed to have been a "former Special Ops Recon SS Marine Corps" member (he also had a Marine Corps flag on his lawn). In addition, he offered some advice about explosives that the agent might covet to protect an out building, recommending against incendiaries or napalm -- even though he had the items in stock -- because they burn too hot.
As the conversation continued, Sandberg allegedly boasted that in addition to military ordinance like grenades, he put together his own homemade explosive devices -- or, to put it another way, he "builds his own shit, makes his own shit." He added that the "frags" he created made big booms, not small ones, and produced a "kill zone" of twenty meters and a "hurt zone" of sixty meters.
Rather than getting supplies for these doodads at gun stores, Sandberg said he preferred going to more standard retail establishments like Home Depot. But even though the material was available over the counter, knowing the proper formula was key. The devices are "not firecrackers, not things to play with," but items that were "life or death," he stressed.
At a subsequent meeting with the agent, Sandberg again talked up his Marine Corps credentials before going off on an ideological rant. The document says he "claimed a right-wing declaration of independence/constitutionalist political manifesto and made disparaging remarks about the current administration and them wanting to take away his guns."
The search of Sandberg's home, as seen in a photo provided by the ATF.
If any feds tried to pry away his firepower, he announced, "it would be a bad day for them and lots of them would die." But while he was willing to give up his life to protect his weaponry, he believed that no gaggle of agents or SWAT team was capable of busting him at the house -- that only a US Marine Special Forces Recon team could do so.
Did the ATF agent take that as a challenge? The affidavit doesn't say. But after Sandberg showed off more of his lethal gear, including pipe bombs and small silver destructive devices known as "crickets," and mentioned his preference for cocaine over money (he liked being paid in one ounce increments), agents from the ATF, the Denver Police Department and bomb squads from Jefferson County and Colorado Springs arranged to pay him a visit -- and when they did, they managed to take him into custody without any damage to life and limb despite his braggadocio.
This past June, Sandberg entered two possession of unregistered firearms guilty pleas. His reward at this week's sentencing was 51 months in federal prison.
Looks like his schmucky plans blew up in his face.
Here's a 2013 7News report about Sandberg's arrest, as well as the aforementioned affidavit.
More from our Schmuck of the Week archive: "Paul Donovan Johnson, child predator and schmuck, claims four year old seduced him."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Westword's biggest stories.
- Reader: Bars Will Lose a Ton on Drink Sales If They Let People Smoke Weed
- Thirty Mind-Blowing Murals at the Heart of Project Colfax
- The Mexican Says Adiós to Denver