A Point Pleasant Borough man pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges he provided material support to the Islamic State terror organization and bought some of the materials needed to plant a bomb.
Gregory Lepsky, 20, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Michael Shipp in Trenton federal court to a charge of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, specifically ISIS.
The year-old case began on Feb. 21, 2017, when Lepsky was arrested by the Point Pleasant Police Department in connection with an incident that occurred that day in his family’s home. Following the arrest, law enforcement officers searched the residence and found a new pressure cooker stored behind a roll of bubble wrap in Lepsky’s bedroom closet, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito and Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers.
During searches of computers and other digital evidence linked to Lepsky, law enforcement officers found evidence of Lepsky’s plan to build and detonate a bomb in New York City as part of his support for ISIS. During several social media communications, Lepsky told others that he intended to fight on behalf of ISIS and that he would, if necessary, “become a martyr” by driving a “bunch of explosives” to where the “enemies” could be found and blowing himself up.
Law enforcement officers also located a series of instructions that had been published online by another terrorist group that gave specific, step-by-step instructions on how to build a pressure cooker bomb, which coincided with the delivery of the pressure cooker to Lepsky a short time before his arrest. In addition, the officers recovered a message forwarded by Lepsky from another ISIS supporter stating that if a westerner could not travel to Syria to fight for ISIS, he could conduct a terrorist attack in his home country using improvised explosive devices, the statement said.
During Tuesday’s plea hearing, Lepsky admitted that beginning in Jan. 2017, he began to formulate a plan to detonate the pressure cooker bomb in New York City on behalf of ISIS. Lepsky admitted that he used the internet to access ISIS directives, obtain bomb-making instructions, and purchase the pressure cooker and other items to be used in the attack.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, if accepted by the Court, Lepsky will be given a sentence between 16 and 19 years in prison and a lifetime term of supervised release. Sentencing is scheduled for June 19, 2018.
The FBI, state Homeland Security office, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office and Point Pleasant police were involved in the investigation.