Grad student accused of having dangerous chemicals says he had nothing to hide, trial starts in Bailey murder, Soares sued for $75 million, did Cuomo eat a piece of New York?

Jason Sanchez, the RPI grad student arrested last week after Bethlehem police said they found dangerous chemicals in his apartment's basement, took the Times Union on a shopping trip to Lowe's to demonstrate that he had "nothing to hide" and that the chemicals were easily obtainable. [TU]

The Albany County legislature approved a budget that includes a five percent property tax increase and 33 layoffs. Legislators also approved a bill that would move the ball forward on building a new county nursing home (county exec Mike Breslin has been opposed to building a new facility). [TU] [Fox23]

The union that reps Albany police officers has gone to court against the city to protest a shift in work schedules related to the department's new community policing initiative. Officers were scheduled to start walking new beats this Friday. [TU] [CBS6]

Opening arguments are scheduled to start today in the trial of De Von Callicutt, the man accused of killing UAlbany student Richard Bailey in 2008. The jury consists of 10 women and 2 men. [TU] [YNN]

Albany police say a UAlbany student was raped by an unknown attacker early Sunday morning on Quail Street (map). An APD spokesman says there's "not enough to go on" to believe this attack is connected to last week's rape on Dove Street. He also urged people to be cautious: "Trying to reinforce, 3:30 in the morning, 21-year-old female should not be out walking alone." [CBS6] [WNYT] [TU] [YNN] [Fox23] [YNN]

David Paterson says he blames the setup of New York State government -- especially the "Three Men in a Room" concept -- for the state's dysfunction. [Buffalo News]

The state Senate is scheduled to take up legislation today that would prop up NYC OTB -- though it looks like there won't be any action on it. (Revenue from NYC OTB theoretically helps support horse racing in the state, including at Saratoga.) [TU] [Daily Politics]

The pharmacists targeted in the Signature Pharmacies steroids case have sued Albany County DA David Soares for $75 million. [AP/WSJ]

A grand jury will hear the case of alleged voter fraud against two Troy Democratic party officials. [Troy Record]

A US District Court judge recently ruled there's enough evidence for the case to proceed against two state troopers accused of busting up a guy's face outside the Bayou Cafe in downtown Albany in 2006 -- and then trying to cover it up. [TU]

The Troy Police Department says it's changed the ways it handles complaints from citizens. [Troy Record]

Boardings at ALB are down about five percent this year through October compared to the same period last year.

A drop in greenhouse gas emissions has apparently led to a glut of pollution credits issued by the multi-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. [TU]

The Bethlehem school district is thinking about selling its district headquarters and consolidating and closing an elementary school to cover projected budget gaps in the future. [TU]

Friendly's is using the Capital Region as a test market for overhauls of its locations -- and is randomly giving out $1,000 to people in the process. [Troy Record]

Christmas trees from a farm in Charlton are headed to military families in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan. [Troy Record]

Though it can't be confirmed, Andrew Cuomo may have eaten a piece of New York State yesterday. [State of Politics]

Comments

On the Jason Sanchez thing - In real life, I work as a chemist at a local pharmaceutical manufacturing company. I would never dream to have the combination of chemicals he had in my home/living quarters, let alone apartment basement.

There's no doubt in my mind he was up to something as I'm suspicious of the combination of Xylene with nitric acid (in my mind, structurally, these can combine to make nitro substituted toluenes (such as TNT). The other chemicals are also harsh corrosives (sulfuric/nitric acid) or flammables (acetone, xylene, butane).

The strongest chemical I would dream to have in my apartment is bleach...

I'm pretty sure we will never know what the Sanchezes were up to since all of them are smart enough to not talk to the cops about what was going on. Which is a shame because I'm REALLY curious.

@derryX If there is no doubt in your mind, where is the glassware and related equipment to make TNT.

I agree it neither safe nor smart to store any chemicals in the basement of an apartment on a wood self without any secondary containment, or locked solvent cabinets. But to manufacture, TNT, or my first suspicion meth, or other party drugs, he would need a variety of glassware and related equipment to make what you are suggesting.

At 3:30 in the morning, a 21-year-old female should not be out walking alone, but she would be able to, in a better world. Same goes for men, they should be able to feel safe, too. I wonder what else can be done (or is being done) besides avoiding the bad guys, the danger.

@MattW, decent point, but with my training and background in chemistry, I see no need for the average civilian to posess any of those chemicals (besides maybe butane in reasonable quantities). Like I said, If I want to clean something, I go for bleach as the harshest thing I'd keep around. The other stuff is just way too specific to keep around for the purpose of "cleaning."

To address your point about the glassware, it's possible that any equipment he'd need is elsewhere...

If my home was lost by a chemical fire, I'd be leary about what I'd keep around, let alone some of the harshest things you can buy.

I'm not saying it's a smoking gun, but it's highly circumstantial...

On the Jason Sanchez thing - In real life, I work as a chemist at a local pharmaceutical manufacturing company. I would never dream to have the combination of chemicals he had in my home/living quarters, let alone apartment basement.

As someone who dealt with chemicals for the last 12 years I am amused by your reaction.
The fact that he stored these things in a communal place accessible to other people including kids is completely unacceptable.
But the chemicals themselves are not that bad. Sulfuric acid and nitric acids are perfectly safe if stored properly. Toluene (pain thinner) and acetone (old-style nail polish remover) are pretty benign too.
Safety is not consists of running for the hills screaming "Boo! Chemicals!". This irrational fear does not help anyone.
Safety can only be ensured when you know exactly what to expect from the stuff you deal with. But this comes with experience.

There's no doubt in my mind he was up to something as I'm suspicious of the combination of Xylene with nitric acid (in my mind, structurally, these can combine to make nitro substituted toluenes (such as TNT).

Heh heh heh ;) That's a long way to go from a toluene to TNT... Do I need to remind the mechanism of electrophilic substitution in aromatic systems?

The strongest chemical I would dream to have in my apartment is bleach...

Drano. Contains concentrated lye.
BTW, chemical burns with lye are way worse than with acid because lye reacts with lipids in tissues eating deeper and deeper through it.
Some other drain cleaners contain pretty concentrated hydrochloric acid which is not only corrosive but also volatile so you have a chance to breathe it.
Windshield washer fluid. It is almost 40% methanol which is highly toxic.
Hairspray. Has butane as a propellant.
Rubbing alcohol (isopropanol). Many medical patients use it for their injections.
That's just a few examples from an "average Joe" pantry. I haven't even switched to the shop which may have a goo cleaner (toluene), lighter fluid (butane, again), charcoal lighter fluid (kerosene, I guess), gasoline and even an emergency fire starter (a chunk of magnesium, no less!)

but with my training and background in chemistry, I see no need for the average civilian to posess any of those chemicals

With my training and background in chemistry (a PhD + a Chemical Engineering degree) I see no point to ban something out of irrational fear caused by chemical ignorance.

The guy stored his stuff is totally inappropriate way and must be held accountable for this.
But I see another, more systemic problem here. This guy together with his brothers did not have anywhere to go to satisfy his chemical curiosity in a controllable and safe way. There is no such thing as a "Chemistry club" or something in the area. Not even at RPI!
There is an unserved need for some "fun chemistry" from young people. This void is not being filled by the standard chemistry classes and that's the biggest issue I see in this situation.

> This void is not being filled by the standard chemistry classes
> and that's the biggest issue I see in this situation.

The biggest issue to me is how so many media were so quick to propagate that message of fear. "Danger, danger, he is probably making a bomb". The terrorist subtext was really not subtle. Don't live in fear of the unknown.

Lu makes excellent points. I remember having a lot of that stuff around as a kid too, and sometimes worse, but then again my dad was also a chemist (this is becoming a 'how many chemists does it take...' joke).

I would hate to see some kind of registration system for houshold use of potentially hazardous chemicals similar to that for bulk facilities, but yes, things need to be handled properly, and there needs to be some kind of check on that other than a) your house burning down or b) getting arrested as a terror suspect. As Lu says, education goes a long way here.

Ohh Snap. Lu you are right on man, a PhD to a PhD organic chemist. Im off to (not) buy a rotovap and store it in my basement.

@Lu - Don't get me wrong, I know alot of the stuff is available. The dude even walked the Times Union through Lowes and showed them various forms of products you can buy.

I'm not a synthetic chemist, and although i don't have the shiny phD that you do, I do remember my electrophillic aromatic stubstitution reactions, and that's why I indicated "suspicion."

Looking at a sentence I wrote, I wasn't totally precise. I didnt mean that an average person shouldn't have those chemicals; I meant they shouldn't have that combination of chemicals.

Who knows what the dude was doing with the chemicals. Whatever it is, making crayons, chopsticks, dayquil, bombs, water, or air, storing that combination in a common area, as you even indicated, is inappropriate, and, bigger picture, since he lives in a apartment complex, the complex would have been held accountable should something bad had happened. I'm sure the complex is held to OSHA requirements.

Now this kid was making explosives!! You can watch them do a "controlled" burn @ 2pm!

On November 19, a gardener for Escondido, CA, resident George Djura Jakubec was walking in the backyard when he stepped on something causing it to detonate. The explosion caused burns and abrasions up one leg, under one arm, and on his head and eyebrows, and he was hospitalized.

Officers started searching the yard and home… then quickly retreated when they found numerous explosive compounds and explosive-making materials in and around the house. According to various reports, items found on the property include:

9-12 pounds (4-6 Kg) of homemade HMTD, PETN, and ETN (which authorities claim may be the largest discovery of its type on US soil…)
13 grenades
9 detonators
bags of metal pieces and ball bearings
semiautomatic weapons
several gallons of nitric acid, sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid
50 pounds (23 Kg) of hexamine
books about explosives
a tracker hidden in currency during bank robberies
And then they decided to call off the search because the house was too unsafe for offices. Who knows what else may be in un-searched corners of the house.

Not surprisingly, Jakubec, a naturalized US citizen originally from Serbia, is in jail on $5 million bail and is charged with more than 25 felonies relating to explosives and bank robbery. He pleaded not guilty.

Officials say there is no safe way to remove all the explosives from the house, so the best way to neutralize the danger is to burn the house to the ground. They plan to evacuate 200 homes, build temporary fire-safe walls between the house and its neighbors, spray the wall and neighboring houses with fire-retardant foam, pre-heat the house so it ignites quickly, then start a fire. They plan to wait until a time after morning rush hour when the winds are calm before starting the fire. They will need to close part of nearby interstate 15 because of the house’s proximity to the highway. Gov. Schwarzenegger has declared a state of emergency for San Diego County.

Yikes.

Update (12/4): The North County Times is releasing images taken from inside the house. Very disturbing. Very disturbing indeed. It’s like that one episode of CSI where almost the exact same thing happened. They’re clearing the house, when the one CSI opens a fridge in the garage. Then he slowly says to the other CSIs in that low, dramatic tone of voice. ‘stop what you’re doing and slowly walk out of the house.’ They ended up doing the same thing to that house, only they detonated the explosives and esploded the house instead of lighting it on fire. Click the image for all 12 pictures.

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