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Lodi detective: Man had enough explosives to blow part of building

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Posted: Tuesday, February 15, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 6:16 am, Tue Feb 15, 2011.

A Lodi man arrested last month for possessing explosive materials had enough to blow up the side of a building, according to testimony from a Lodi police detective Monday.

James Perman, 43, had several items in his home that could be used for constructing explosives, according to Detective Stephen Maynard, of the Lodi Police Department, including a gallon of ammonium nitrate tablets. Commonly used as fertilizer, ammonium nitrate can be combined with diesel fuel or kerosene to create a powerful explosive known as Ammonium Nitrate and Fuel Oil, or ANFO.

“It’s the same explosive filler used in the Oklahoma City bombing,” Maynard said, referring to the 1995 terrorist attack on a federal building in Oklahoma City. Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were convicted for the bombing, which killed 168 people.

Maynard testified in a preliminary hearing Monday at the Lodi branch of San Joaquin Superior Court.

The ammonium nitrate had such a strong odor, Maynard said, that it caused immediate headaches upon smelling it. When asked if it was dangerous, Maynard said it absolutely was.

“I could destroy this end of the building with it,” Maynard said, referring to the Police Department building where the courtroom is located.

Other items police recovered at the scene include golf club shafts, shotgun shells, and homemade blasting caps, which are small explosive devices used to detonate larger explosives. Police also found a large number of glass marbles and metal ball bearings, which Maynard said are often put into roadside bombs in Afghanistan and Iraq. Upon detonation, glass marble pieces can get lodged in the skin, Maynard said, and won’t show up on an X-ray, requiring exploratory surgery to locate.

Perman was arrested Jan. 2 after a neighbor tipped off police, according to testimony by Lodi Officer Jim Landis. The neighbor used to occasionally drink beer and smoke cigars with Perman, Landis said, and called police because he was concerned the explosive materials were a safety hazard.

Judge Lauren Thomasson ruled there was enough evidence to proceed to trial on three felony counts: possession of an explosive device, prohibited possession of ammunition and child endangerment. As a convicted felon from a previous offense, Perman is not allowed to have ammunition. He was charged with child endangerment because his 10-year-old daughter lives with him, according to testimony.

Perman is scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 25.

Contact reporter Fernando Gallo at fernando@lodinews.com.

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