Richard Sandberg's allegedly schmucky deal: I'll trade kill-zone bombs for cocaine
The residents of a Jefferson County neighborhood got the shock -- or maybe we should say schmuck -- of their lives when a slew of officers from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and other agencies swooped in on a nearby home. And they had good reason, according to an affidavit aimed at Richard Sandberg, 35. The document, on view below, says Sandberg used the home as a base to swap bombs for cash or cocaine.
The affidavit 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, in early January -- 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). He also 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.
Right now, Sandberg has only been charged with possession of a firearm that hasn't been registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record database -- a single count. And while conviction on that accusation could bring him as much as ten years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine, don't be surprised if more allegations are dropped on him down the line.
Look below to see a 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.
- Readers: Here's Why the NFL Won't Lift Its Marijuana Ban
- Celebrating the Ten Best Green Chile Places in Denver Right Now
- Denver Development: What Will Happen to Emily Griffth School on Prime City Block?