Texas mailbox bomber gets about 7 years in prison

A man accused of dropping more than 30 explosive devices into mail collection boxes and other locations across East Texas was sentenced to more than seven years in federal prison on Tuesday.

Larry Eugene North, 53, of Henderson was sentenced to seven years and three months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Leonard Davis in Tyler on Tuesday. Earlier Tuesday, he pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate John Love to single counts of use of a weapon of mass destruction, possession of an illegal destructive device and obstruction of mail.

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had said that at least half of the three dozen explosives were found in mailboxes, while others were in such locations as the front yard of a business and a cemetery. Although none exploded and no injuries were reported, the spate of discoveries kept people on edge from Feb. 5 of last year to April 7, 2010, when North was arrested.

"Larry North is a terrorist, and I am pleased that his conviction and sentencing have addressed that basic fact," U.S. Attorney John Bales said in a statement issued later Tuesday. "What North did was attack the sense of well-being and peace that we enjoy as Americans; as a consequence, he must be punished."

"Though the pipe bombs did not cause physical damage, the emotional damage inflicted on postal employees and the American public constitutes a federal crime," said Randall Till, postal inspector in charge of the U.S. Postal Service Fort Worth Division.

North had been under surveillance for about a week before he was arrested while placing an explosive in a Tyler mailbox, authorities said. A pipe bomb was found in the van he was driving and bomb-making materials were discovered in his home, they said.

Shortly after his arrest, ATF Special Agent Robert Champion said a court dispute sparked North's apparent anger with the government and led to the attempted attacks.