Former East County Man Sentenced in Ricin Scare

Suspect first used toxin in San Diego home

Former La Mesa resident, Roger Bergendorff was sentenced Monday to 3½ years in prison for possession of the deadly toxin ricin.

On Feb. 28, authorities found 4 grams of powdered ricin in Bergendorff's extended-stay Las Vegas motel room. He pleaded guilty on Aug. 4 to possession of a biological toxin and possession of unregistered handgun silencers.

In a lengthy speech during his sentencing in Las Vegas, Bergendorff, 57, said that he never intended to hurt anyone. Authorities have characterized him as a trouble man, but not a terrorist.

Bergendorff, an unemployed graphic designer, admitted to distilling ricin from the beans of a castor plant from the backyard of his San Diego home in 1998. He told the court that he kept the plant with him when he moved to Reno, the Salt Lake City area, and then Las Vegas.

Bergendorff used to live in a home in the 7400 block of Orien Avenue, according to residents in that area.  He is a graduate of Helix High School, and lived in the home from the 70s until about 10 years ago.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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