A bombing campaign against the home of a Rotterdam man began with one hired bomber, then expanded to three, a prosecutor said Monday.
Authorities have now arrested the man they believe to be the initial attacker, Michael P. Garry, 31, of 132 Glenville St., Rotterdam.
He faces one count of third-degree arson, a felony, and fourth-degree criminal mischief, a misdemeanor, for allegedly detonating an explosive device on the man’s truck March 11 and damaging siding with what appeared to be a screwdriver a week earlier.
Meanwhile, prosecutor John Healy in court Monday mentioned the existence of wiretaps targeted at the man now accused of orchestrating the attacks, Larry Ahrens.
Healy later indicated those wiretaps were helpful in identifying those involved, even before two of the alleged bombers were reportedly caught in the act in April. They began at the end of March and continued until the arrests in April.
“[Investigators] did gain a lot of knowledge through the electronic surveillance,” Healy said later. “They had a good idea at the time who the players were.”
Healy referenced the wiretaps during the arraignments Monday of Michael Chambers and Amy Brzoza, the two charged previously with carrying out Ahrens’ plot to terrorize the resident.
The entire plot has been described as Ahrens’ attempt to instill fear in his old girlfriend’s new love interest.
Chambers, Brzoza and Ahrens were named in a 49-count indictment handed up last month. The top count, first-degree arson, could send them to prison for 25 years to life, if convicted.
Chambers, 33, of Draper Avenue, and Brzoza, 31, of Kellar Avenue, each pleaded not guilty. Chambers is being held in lieu of $500,000 cash bail or $1 million bond. Brzoza is being held in lieu of $50,000 cash or $250,000 bond.
Ahrens, 33, of Rotterdam, was arraigned last week and also pleaded not guilty. He is being held in lieu of $250,000 cash or $750,000 bond.
Authorities have said Ahrens paid the three to wage a nearly two-month campaign of violence against the new boyfriend’s East Claremont Avenue home. No one was injured.
Charges against the three suspects initially arrested were filed in April, after Brzoza and Chambers were caught by police on a 24-hour stakeout of the targeted home. They were seen allegedly throwing an explosive device at the house.
Healy said Monday, though, that Brzoza and Chambers weren’t Ahrens’ original choice to carry out the campaign. That choice was Garry.
“What appears to have happened is Mr. Garry carried out some acts on Mr. Ahrens’ behalf and then he was arrested,” Healy said. “Once he’s unavailable to Mr. Ahrens, he found a new person to do his dirty work for him.”
Garry was arrested on unrelated drug charges March 15, after he’d allegedly bombed the truck and punctured the siding with the screwdriver.
Healy, though, indicated that Ahrens wanted to do worse things than ruin the siding. He faces charges of first-degree attempted arson and first-degree criminal possession of a weapon in connection with the same incident.
Garry’s case is expected to be indicted separately. He had been a suspect in the case since early on, but authorities didn’t have enough to charge him until last week.
He has been in custody on the drug charges since mid-March, Healy said.
In all, Chambers and Brzoza face charges related to bombings March 17, March 24 and April 22. Ahrens is also charged in those three, along with the March 5 and March 11 incidents.
Ahrens also faces multiple weapons possession counts related to weapons he allegedly possessed at the time of his arrest.