A 40-year-old probationer was sentenced to two years in jail for his guilty plea Friday to touching off an explosion on New Year’s Day near Tustin.
Kevin Sean Welch had pleaded guilty in April 2019 to setting off an explosive device that triggered a SWAT team response in the same general area and was sentenced to 292 days in jail, the amount of time he had served, for the crime that occurred in October 2018.
Welch was also placed on five years of formal probation for the 2019 plea.
An undercover Orange County Sheriff’s Department sergeant was in an unincorporated area near Tustin at Wass Street and Newport Avenue about 7 a.m. on Jan. 1 and heard a loud explosion, Jaimee Blashaw, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, said when Welch was arrested.
Deputies later found an improvised explosive device that had been ignited in a parking lot of medical offices near some homes in the area, she said.
The investigation led to Welch, said Blashaw, who did not elaborate on how detectives linked him to the crime.
Welch has been jailed since his New Year’s Day arrest.
Welch pleaded guilty Friday to one felony count each of possession of a destructive device on a public street or highway, reckless or malicious possession of a destructive device or explosive in a public place passed by people, and intent to unlawfully make a destructive device.
A felony count of use of a destructive device with the intent to injure was dismissed as part of the plea bargain, according to court records.
Welch pleaded guilty in April 2019 to a single felony count of use of a destructive device with the intent to injure. As part of that plea deal, several other felony charges were dismissed related to incidents on Nov. 6 and Nov. 14, 2018, according to court records.
On the latter date, Orange County sheriff’s deputies were called just before 9 a.m. to a condominium in the 12700 block of Newport Avenue in an unincorporated area near Tustin where Welch blew up a chiminea-type object in a back patio of his yard, drawing SWAT officers, according to court records.
Welch told investigators he “miscalculated the ingredients” in the explosive, according to court documents.
A probation officer wrote in a report filed in January that Welch failed a drug test in September, and because of his most recent arrest should have his probation revoked.
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