NYC teacher who paid students to build bombs sentenced

A math teacher in New York City who paid students to dismantle fireworks and store the explosive powder was sentenced to nearly six years in prison Wednesday, according to reports.

U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman cited these “dangerous times” when schools and places of worship must guard against violence, and he nearly doubled the three-to-four years called for by federal sentencing guidelines when he sentenced Christian Toro to five years and 10 months in prison.

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"Today's sentence serves as a message that building and stockpiling destructive devices are grave offenses in and of themselves," said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman in a statement, as ABC 7 reported.

Toro, 28, pleaded guilty in November to unlawfully manufacturing and aiding the construction of a destructive device and distributing explosive materials to a minor.

Prosecutors said Toro and his brother who awaits sentencing stored a cache of dangerous materials in a Bronx apartment, and Toro paid at least two students to break apart commercial fireworks and store their explosive powder in containers.

They said the powder and other explosive materials-- enough to construct a bomb-- were found after a student Toro was having sex with called in a bomb threat to her school.

In court papers, Toro’s lawyer requested leniency, saying Toro has expressed “sincere shame and remorse” and is now “clean and sober and rehabilitated.

Berman said that Toro, who has already been incarcerated 15 months, must serve the federal sentence in addition to any time he eventually serves anywhere else.

Prosecutors noted in their sentencing submission that he has been charged with statutory rape and related charges based on his relationship with the student.

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They rejected his lawyer’s argument that Toro was engaged in solitary exploration to satisfy his “misplaced curiosity.”

They said his actions “suggests that the defendant intended to elicit fear with his actions.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.