A San Jose engineer was arraigned Tuesday on an indictment for allegedly destroying energy facilities in the city with fire or explosives, federal prosecutors said.
Peter Karasev, 36, was indicted on Oct. 19 on two counts of destruction of an energy facility and one count of use of fire or an explosive to commit a federal felony.
He allegedly damaged the property of two PG&E transformers in San Jose on two occasions, Dec. 8, 2022 and Jan. 5, 2023, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California said in a statement.
Prosecutors said he caused “significant interruption and impairment” of the energy facilities in both attacks, which took place during the early morning hours in commercial areas. Both attacks cut power to over 1,500 households and businesses in the San Jose community, according to investigators.
“Damaging our region's critical infrastructure endangers innocent victims -- including our most vulnerable citizens such as the elderly and the sick -- and we will not tolerate it. We will vigorously prosecute any malicious attempts to disrupt the power grid,” U.S. Attorney Ismail Ramsey said in a statement.
Before his arrest in March, Karasev was allegedly making and trying out homemade explosives, as well as producing methamphetamine in his home. Producers alleged that at the time of his arrest, he was in possession of improvised explosive devices, multiple guns, additional weapons, over 300 pounds of explosive materials and other hazardous substances.
If convicted, Karasev faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison on the third count to be served consecutively to any imprisonment imposed for either of the other counts. Prosecutors said he also faces a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release for each count.
Karasev, who was ordered detained in federal custory, is next scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 30, 2024.