Reporting on Molotov cocktails and government informants—or not


by Mary Turck • 10/23/08 • The Strib and the PiPress give strangely different accounts of an RNC-related guilty plea.

Star Tribune: A 23-year-old Michigan man has admitted to plotting to detonate a homemade bomb in the tunnels near the Xcel Energy Center, hoping it would cause a power failure and prompt cancellation of the Republican National Convention.

Pioneer Press: Although he pleaded guilty, he said he intended the explosives to be used only for “self-defense.”

Star Tribune: DePalma spent about 90 minutes at the Hennepin County Library on Aug. 18 researching recipes for homemade bombs. He bought the supplies for Molotov cocktails a few days later.

Pioneer Press: “Was it your idea to make them?” the judge asked.

“Yes,” DePalma replied, adding that he believed he was “encouraged” to build them.

“By encouragement, I mean it was made very, very easy for me,” he said. He said the informant drove him to various stations to get gas.

Star Tribune: On Aug. 22, DePalma allegedly made two jugs of a homemade napalm-like substance for use in the Molotov cocktails. He was seen traveling to a remote location in Rosemount to allegedly assemble and test the Molotov cocktails.

Pioneer Press: DePalma made five of the explosives. He and the government informant blew up two to test the design, and the FBI seized the other three.

Star Tribune: DePalma faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Pioneer Press: The judge noted that under federal sentencing guidelines, DePalma could be sentenced to 46 months to 57 months in prison and be fined as much as $100,000.