By David Schwartz
PHOENIX (Reuters) - An Oklahoma man convicted of mailing an improvised bomb to hardline Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio from northern Arizona last year was sentenced on Tuesday to seven years in prison, federal prosecutors said.
Gregory Lynn Shrader, 56, was sentenced in federal court in Phoenix on four charges for mailing the package to Arpaio in April 2013 as part of a scheme to frame a former business partner for the crime.
He was convicted in September of willfully making a threat to kill by means of an explosive, transport of explosive material, mailing an injurious article and possession of explosive material by a felon.
Shrader made no statement to the court during the sentencing but maintains his innocence, said his attorney, Robert Newcomb, adding that he believed the sentence would be appealed.
Prosecutors said during the trial that Shrader built the bomb containing smokeless explosive powder and other material last year after becoming unhappy with the results of two unsuccessful lawsuits against the former business associate.
Shrader then put the associate's return address on the package and dropped it off during a road trip at a U.S. Postal Service mailbox in Flagstaff, Arizona, to be delivered to Arpaio’s headquarters office in Phoenix.
The mailing was intercepted before it reached Arpaio and was later rendered harmless by authorities.
Interviews with witnesses and video footage taken from where the package was mailed led authorities to Shrader, who was arrested after a search of his home in Jay, Oklahoma, prosecutors had said.
Arpaio, who bills himself as America’s toughest sheriff, said he was grateful to authorities for the conviction, but remained puzzled by Shrader’s actions.
“Why of all the high-profile people out there did he pick me to frame the guy?” said Arpaio, known nationally for his hardline stance against illegal immigration and a recent ruling by a federal judge that his deputies racially profiled Latino drivers.
Asked if he was shaken by the attempt, he said, “The day I get scared is the day I leave as sheriff.”
(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Walsh)