Crime

Centre Hall man faces federal charges after home explosion

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms joined state police and Centre County officials to investigate a Centre Hall home explosion.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms joined state police and Centre County officials to investigate a Centre Hall home explosion. jboogert@centredaily.com

A Centre Hall man was arrested Friday, two days after an explosion rocked his home.

James Woodring, 50, is facing federal charges for allegedly manufacturing and dealing explosives without a license, transporting explosive materials, possessing a firearm as a prohibited person and possessing a stolen firearm.

“Mr. Woodring, you have had a heck of a week,” said U.S. Magistrate Judge Martin Carlson as the defendant was brought to the bench in Courtroom 5 of the Ronald Reagan Federal Building and Courthouse in Harrisburg in handcuffs and leg shackles with several plainclothes law enforcement officers by his side.

The court appointed an attorney to represent Woodring. Carlson named John Abom as Woodring’s lawyer after reviewing his application, saying that his major asset, the house that exploded on Wednesday night, had its “value decrease considerably” in connection with the charges.

Carlson said the charges would not normally be an automatic jail sentence pending the hearing, but Woodring’s case posed problems.

“This is sadly, sir, not your first rodeo,” Carlson said.

Woodring pleaded guilty to dealing explosive materials without a license after being charged in 2010 in another federal case. Woodring was sentenced by U.S. District Judge William W. Caldwell to one year of probation for dealing explosive materials without a license.

There was also the fact, the judge said, that Woodring can’t go home because of the explosion.

U.S. Attorney Michael Consiglio said that Woodring will remain in federal custody until the detention and preliminary hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

Local officials began to work with the the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms on Thursday to determine the origination and cause of the explosion at Woodring’s house at 411 S. Pennsylvania Ave. It is still not determined what caused the explosion.

Resident Agent in Charge John Oakey with the ATF’s Harrisburg field office said his agents joined state police and Centre County fire officials in the investigation. He said there was “extensive damage” inside the home.

Two adults and an adolescent were in the home at about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday when the explosion occurred. They were each treated and released, according to Oakey.

Oakey said the home is not habitable. He also said there is no existing danger to the public and that the house is cordoned off to preserve the scene.

John Boogert contributed to this story.

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