SAN JOSE -- Prosecutors filed a dozen charges Friday against a Santa Clara man accused of threatening to kill a Bay Area senator after the discovery this week of a weapons cache and bomb-making materials at his home.
Everett Fred Basham, 45, was charged with 10 felonies: criminal threats with an armed enhancement, two counts of possessing a destructive device, two counts of possessing materials with intent to make an explosive, one count each of forging and possessing a fake driver's license and three counts of illegally possessing an assault weapon. He was also charged with two misdemeanor counts for allegedly carrying a concealed and loaded firearm in a vehicle.
State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, said Thursday that Basham sent him an email about four weeks ago threatening to "assassinate" him out of objection to his proposals to tighten state gun laws.
Among the assault weapons Basham was said to own include a Barret 416 high-powered rifle and a Franchi SPAS 12 combat shotgun. One of the explosives counts claims he illegally modified a bird bomb: a firecracker round with a delayed explosion typically used to scare off birds gathering in an undesired location like an airport runway. The modifications Basham made were not disclosed.
Clad in a red jumpsuit, a bespectacled and shackled Basham was mild-mannered when he was arraigned in a San Jose courtroom Friday afternoon and began to make a statement to the court. He said "Before we start ..." then was stopped by attorney Jenny Brandt, who appeared on behalf of Palo Alto attorney Daniel Barton, Basham's hired counsel.
After the hearing Brandt declined to comment. A man who answered the door at the Sunnyvale home where Basham was arrested Tuesday also declined comment.
Deputy district attorney Alaleh Kianerci made brief remarks outside the courtroom, lauding authorities' work in investigating the threat against Yee.
"The most important thing is no one was hurt," Kianerci said. "This is very early on in the investigation and there is still a lot of work to do."
Further details about the threat will stay under wraps for the time being: Kianerci said Basham's case file has been sealed out of safety concerns and because the investigation is ongoing. She added that her office will seek no bail or high bail for Basham.
Basham purportedly wrote in an email that if Yee didn't back off his proposal, he would kill him in or around the Capitol in Sacramento, the senator said. Investigators from the California Highway Patrol, which handles legislative security, declined to detail the threat but said it was specific enough to act on.
Yee's proposed bill, AB47, targets the "bullet button" loophole in the state's assault weapons ban, which allows manufacturers to sell weapons with magazines that can be replaced quickly using a simple button. It's slated for a hearing in front of the Senate Public Safety Committee in the coming weeks.
Tuesday morning the CHP found Basham at a family home in Sunnyvale and arrested him in connection with the threat and a weapons violation after finding a loaded handgun in his car, according to CHP Officer Sean Kennedy.
Officers then headed to Basham's home in the 3100 block of Humbolt Avenue in Santa Clara to search for evidence. A SWAT team sent inside to secure the house -- a cluttered, unkempt one-story dwelling topped by a microwave antenna and crisscrossing cables and outfitted with at least half a dozen security cameras -- quickly got out upon seeing chemicals resembling explosive ingredients, police said.
Bomb squad technicians identified several of the substances and safely disposed them, but found one compound they could not identify and out of safety, buried and covered it with sandbags on the front lawn and detonated it. When the home search continued Wednesday, bomb techs from the CHP and Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office discovered multiple "completed destructive devices" and carried them off the next day with the intent of detonating them safely elsewhere.
The CHP said the search yielded guns, explosives and chemicals to make explosives. After his arrest, it surfaced that Basham worked briefly for Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who called him a "brilliant" engineer. He urged people to withhold judgment about Basham.
Staff writer Joshua Melvin contributed to this report. Contact Robert Salonga at 408-920-5002. Follow him at Twitter.com/robertsalonga.