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Laney indicted on explosives charges


Richmond C. Laney, the one-time candidate for sheriff accused of hoarding an arsenal in his Ellicott City home, was indicted yesterday on explosives and reckless behavior charges.

A Howard County grand jury returned an indictment on 11 counts of possessing destructive devices and one count of reckless endangerment two months after workers with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs found a cache of weapons, including explosives and guns, during a foreclosure visit.

Laney, 43, initially was charged with 61 counts. The indictment pares those to 12, listing mortars, rockets, grenades and blasting caps among weapons found in a vacant house in the 3600 block of Fels Lane that he had owned.

"We saw no merit in charging 59 offenses," Deputy State's Attorney I. Matthew Campbell said. "We went through and picked 12."

Each explosives count carries a 25-year maximum sentence, prosecutor Keith Cave said. The reckless endangerment charge carries a five-year maximum.

The Howard County indictment deals only with explosives, Campbell said.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms also has been looking into the find and has forwarded a report to the U.S. attorney's office in Baltimore, said Special Agent Daryl McCrary, who supervised the agents' investigating Laney. Any federal charges would be firearms-related; there are about five possible violations, McCrary said.

Laney was in jail for nonpayment of child support, but was about to be released when VA officials, who had foreclosed on the house, arrived July 14 to remove his belongings and found the weapons. The discovery prompted authorities to cordon off the street and evacuate neighboring homes.

Laney was a quality control engineer at Westinghouse Electric Corp. in the 1980s, a member of the Army Reserve from 1987 to 1997 and a frequent political candidate during the early 1990s. He ran a close race for sheriff in 1990, but his support in the community had eroded by the time of his unsuccessful 1994 run. He ran for school board in 1992 but finished last in a field of eight.

Laney held a federal firearms dealer license from 1988 to 1994.

He is being held in the Howard County Detention Center in lieu of $2 million bail.

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