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Homeless Woman Charged In Pacheco Pipe Bomb Incident

PACHECO (BCN) -- A homeless woman who was arrested in connection with a pipe bomb incident in Pacheco earlier this month has been charged with 10 felonies for allegedly possessing explosive devices.

Debra Cole, 40, has been charged with five counts of wrongful possession of an explosive device with the intent to injure someone or destroy property and five counts of possessing an explosive device near a public place, according to court records.

If convicted of all the charges, Cole could face a maximum sentence of 65 years in prison.

Cole was arrested Jan. 11 at a public storage facility in Pacheco after the Central Contra Costa County Narcotic Enforcement Team received a tip from a citizen, enforcement team Cmdr. Norm Wielsch said.

Officers from the team called a Contra Costa County sheriff's patrol deputy who works in the area. The deputy found Cole at a storage facility at 95 First Avenue North in Pacheco.

When agents from the enforcement team arrived, they searched Cole's locker and allegedly found five pipe bombs along with evidence they said linked Cole to the devices, Wielsch said.

Agents evacuated the area and called in the Walnut Creek bomb squad, which used a remote-controlled robot to detonate the bombs.

Air traffic at Buchanan Field Airport was restricted and the California Highway Patrol stopped southbound traffic on Interstate 680 while the devices were detonated, Wielsch said.

Investigators later determined that at least one of the bombs contained shards of broken glass, which agents believe indicates that they were intended to be used to hurt people, Wielsch said.

Agents were still trying to determine the purpose of the pipe bombs Tuesday. Wielsch said he couldn't comment further on the case because it is still under investigation.

Cole was arraigned in Contra Costa County Superior Court on Friday, but did not enter a plea. She is scheduled to return to court Jan. 31 to be assigned an attorney and enter a plea.

In the meantime, she is being held at the West County Detention Facility in Richmond on $5 million bail.

The narcotic enforcement team is managed by the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement and is made up of agents from the Pleasant Hill, Martinez, San Ramon, Danville, Walnut Creek, Pittsburg and Clayton police departments as well as the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office, the CHP, the FBI and the Contra Costa County Probation Department.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News contributed to this report.)

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