Posted on February 21, 2014 at 4:08 PM
Self-described political activist Anson Chi has submitted a request to withdraw his guilty plea to attempting to blow up a Plano natural gas pipeline.
Chi, 34, of Plano, sent his request through a letter to the chief presiding judge for the Eastern District of Texas on Feb. 5.
In the request, Chi wrote that he told his attorney Sminu Peter at the end of September that he wanted to withdraw his plea, but had not heard from him or his other attorney for more than four months.
“The purpose of this letter is to inform you that I am being denied procedural due process of law in my criminal case,” Chi wrote in the letter. “On Sept. 26, 2013, I told one of my two criminal defense attorneys, Sminu Peter, that I wanted to withdraw my guilty plea. It’s been over 4 months now and I have not heard from him at all.”
The Richardson-based Peter is still representing Chi but declined to comment. Chi said he also wrote to the judge assigned to his case, Judge Richard A. Schell, but had not heard from him either.
Chi requested in his letter for the chief presiding judge to contact Schell.
“I would like a hearing scheduled so I can argue my valid grounds for the withdrawal of my plea of guilty,” Chi wrote.
That hearing is scheduled for next week.
In June 2012, Chi was arrested on suspicion of trying to set off a bomb at an Atmos gas regulator station on West Parker Road in Plano. The device exploded in Chi's arms, leaving him seriously injured. He has since recovered from his injuries.
In an initial search of Chi’s home, federal investigators removed explosive devices, which they eventually detonated in rural Kaufman County.
During a second search, investigators discovered bomb-making materials. According to court documents, they found sulfuric acid, nitric acid, thermometers, laboratory glassware and a hot plate. Inside of Chi’s bedroom, agents claim they found books and manuals about technological slavery and domestic terrorism.
In March 2013, a federal judge ruled Chi competent to stand trial.
Chi originally pled not guilty in July 2012, but entered a guilty plea in July 2013.
Chi pled guilty to maliciously attempting to destroy a natural gas pipeline that was used in interstate commerce. Chi also entered a guilty plea to possessing an explosive device composed of methyl nitrate and other parts that was not registered with the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record.
As a part of the plea, Chi would have been sentenced to the maximum 20 years in prison on the charge of maliciously attempting to destroy the pipeline and two years for possessing the device.
Since the federal prison system has no parole or early release programs, Chi would be required to serve the full 22 years.
Chi also faced a fine of up to $250,000 and could be ordered to pay restitution for any damages caused to Atmos Energy, plus the costs of his incarceration.