In a decision already being appealed by prosecutors, a federal magistrate has ruled that a man accused of using a pipe bomb as a weapon of mass destruction can be released to home confinement pending his trial.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Nakazato reached his decision Monday in a makeshift courtroom at Western Medical Center-Santa Ana, where Hai Duc Le, 34, has been recovering from serious burns after a remote-controlled bomb packed with roofing nails exploded in his car last month near the office of Rep. Loretta Sanchez.
Nakazato set bail at $50,000 with certain conditions, including that Le, of Garden Grove, be monitored electronically and that his family deed property to the court so that if he were to flee, it would be forfeited.
"We believe the judge made the right decision," said Le's attorney, Craig Wilke of the federal public defender's office. "He considered the facts and found he could reasonably assure the presence of the defendant at trial and the safety of the community."
Assistant U.S. Atty. Kevin Smith has asked U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney to review Nakazato's decision. A hearing has been set for Aug. 4.
Last month, Nakazato refused to grant bond for Le's brother Hien Duc Le, who faces lesser charges. Nakazato considered releasing him on the condition that he wear an electronic monitor. But the judge rejected the idea after deciding that Hien Duc Le might be able to foil such a device through his electronics background.
Neither Wilke nor Smith would comment on why Nakazato might agree to bail for Hai Duc Le a month after he rejected bail for Hien Duc Le. Hien Duc Le's attorney could not be reached.
The brothers were arrested after a pipe bomb exploded in Hai Duc Le's lap June 15. His car was parked in a strip mall where Sanchez, a Garden Grove Democrat, has her Orange County campaign office.
Investigators still had not determined Wednesday whether Sanchez or a popular Vietnamese cafe was the intended possible target. Police said the congresswoman was helping a Le family member with an immigration matter. Her office was closed and she was not in Orange County when the bomb detonated.
Under an indictment handed up this month by a federal grand jury, Hai Duc Le is charged with using a weapon of mass destruction, carrying and using a destructive device, attempted arson, possession of an unregistered firearm -- in this case, a pipe bomb -- and the illegal making of a destructive device.
Hien Duc Le was charged with accessory after the fact, a count related to the alleged illegal making of the bomb, and obstruction of justice for allegedly concealing evidence.