TAMPA — A 21-year-old Bradenton man was sentenced to 87 months in federal prison Monday for trying to make a bomb he thought would be used to kill a Tampa motorist this spring.
John Nicholas Coors pleaded guilty in August to making the bomb in a murder-for-hire plot.
"I'm not some monster," Coors said at his sentencing hearing Monday. "I am a kid who trusted the wrong kind of people."
Federal Public Defender Jenny Devine argued before Judge Steven D. Merryday that Coors was a misguided young man with a dysfunctional childhood. She told of emotional and physical abuse Coors endured at the hands of his father.
Coors had studied The Anarchist Cookbook to learn to make bombs. It was a book his father, Troy Coors, told him to memorize, Devine said.
Having been homeschooled throughout his childhood, Coors lacked friends aside from his father and a second man, his attorney said.
Reading a written statement to the court, Coors said he wanted to please the second man, "a man I considered to be a father figure. I know what I did was horrible."
Coors' father first called the FBI last year to raise a concern about his son. Agents found that John Coors had made bombs out of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil and had various chemicals in 5-gallon buckets.
The second man told agents Coors was very skilled in making explosive devices and had made pipe bombs. He was worried that Coors might "do something foolish," authorities said.
Working with the acquaintance, an undercover officer approached Coors and got Coors to agree to build a bomb capable of killing at least two people sitting in a car.
Coors said he wanted $8,000 and a month to build the bomb. The undercover officer gave Coors what he said was dynamite, but actually was inert.
On April 23, the officer met with Coors and went to an undisclosed Tampa hotel to assemble the bomb. They then drove to downtown Tampa, where Coors put the bomb in what he was told was the victim's car.
When the "victim" got into the car, Coors pressed the button to trigger the explosion, then pressed it again and again when it did not detonate.
Merryday issued a sentence at the low end of what guidelines suggested.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Eduardo Toro-Font had pushed for a sentence of 108 months in prison, comparing Coors to Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.
"He had no hesitation in following through with his plans," Toro-Font said.
Merryday said an additional 21 months was not likely to contribute much more to correcting Coors' behavior. He warned Coors to take account of the severity of his crime.
"This could have been some criminal customer and you could have killed someone here," Merryday said. "If that fact doesn't hit you hard, you need to be very concerned about yourself."
Dan Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3321.