Las Vegas Sun

September 2, 2014

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Man with ricin in Las Vegas hotel room sentenced

The man who unlawfully possessed the deadly toxin, ricin, and two unregistered firearm silencers in his Las Vegas hotel room in April was sentenced today to three years in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay a $7,500 fine.

U.S. District Judge Robert C. Jones imposed the sentence against Roger Von Bergendorff, 57, who pleaded guilty in August to one count of possession of a biological toxin and one count of possession of unregistered firearms.

Bergendorff also agreed to forfeit a pistol and two unregistered silencers, said U.S. Attorney Greg Brower of Nevada.

He was indicted by a federal grand jury on April 22.

While Bergendorff lived at the Extended Stay America Hotel just west of the Las Vegas Strip, he knowingly possessed the biological agent and toxin, ricin, according to court records.

Ricin is a toxin made from the mash that is left over after castor beans are processed for oil. The toxic effects of ricin occur because it kills body cells after it is taken into the body.

Bergendorff also had a 0.22 caliber Browning pistol with an unregistered silencer attached, as well as a second unregistered silencer. Neither of the silencers were registered to Bergendorff in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record.

On Feb. 14, Bergendorff called emergency medical crews to his hotel room and said he was having problems breathing. He was taken to Spring Valley Hospital where he was declared critically ill and placed on life support.

Hotel management went to Bergendorff's room on Feb. 26 and prepared an inventory of his property. They discovered several weapons. They then notified Metro Police who found the guns and silencers.

Metro Police detectives also discovered "The Anarchist's Cookbook," a collection of instructions on poisons and other dangerous recipes, including how to prepare ricin.

Detectives alsoo found ricin, castor beans, syringes and beakers.

FBI agents searched Salt Lake City storage units rented by Bergendorff and discovered castor beans, various chemicals used to prepare ricin, a respirator, filters, painter's mask, laboratory glassware, syringes and a notebook on ricin production.

The FBI confirmed on March 7 that material recovered from Bergendorff's hotel room in Las Vegas contained 2.9 percent active ricin. The preparation was characterized as "crude."

Bergendorff was discharged from the hospital on April 16 and arrested by investigating agents. Bergendorff has been in custody since the date of his arrest.

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