'Occupy' Doctor Had Bomb-Making Chemicals In Ridgewood Basement, Authorities Charge
Authorities raid Union Street home, say they've recover highly volatile bomb-making chemical and assault rifles.
A New York doctor who was active in the Occupy Wall Street movement of 2011 was charged Saturday with possessing a large quantity of chemicals used in bomb-making, hours after authorities conducted a raid on the Ridgewood house in which he lived, officials said.
Roberto Rivera, 60, a medical doctor, was charged with recklessly creating a risk of widespread injury or damage after FBI agents and members of the Bergen County bomb squad found precursor chemicals used in the making of explosives, Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said in a release Saturday afternoon.
Molinelli called at least one of the chemicals "highly volatile," but authorities did not disclose the names of the chemicals found in the house.
Rivera was being held on $1 million bail.
Once Rivera was in custody, a further search of Rivera’s home at 183 Union Street revealed a number of assault rifles and other firearms, Molinelli said.
Rivera is currently unemployed but has a valid license to practice medicine in New York, Molinelli said.
Rivera was a vocal member of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and a photograph of him was featured in a Bloomberg News photo gallery.
“I’m glad that at last the youth of America is able to stand on two feet and take a position that millions of people around the world have taken that they will not be intimidated by the capitalist free market paradigm and they will fight against gross inequality in distribution of income and assets," Rivera told Bloomberg.
Rivera was also featured in a Nov. 2011 story in the Tribeca Trib, in which he is described as a volunteer medic who walked around the 'Occupy' encampment looking for people who needed medical attention.
"Occupy Wall Street vigorously uses Constitutionally-protected rights to protest against Wall Street greed and is firmly committed to non-violence," William Dobbs, a press liaison for Occupy Wall Street, told Patch Saturday night. "Mr. Rivera, as anyone charged with a crime, is entitled to fairness and due process including reasonable bail."
Authorities from multiple agencies — including the FBI and Bergen County hazmat and bomb squad units — began removing evidence from the home on Friday night.
Ridgewood Police Chief John Ward confirmed to Patch Saturday morning that county, federal and local officials were jointly investigating a "serious situation" at a residential building.
He declined to provide any details but said the situation could be a "public safety threat."
A neighbor told Patch that authorities descended on the street at around 10 p.m. Friday and remained at the location overnight, focusing on a shared basement in the converted apartment building.
A witness said the FBI knocked on the door of another tenant at the building at 5 a.m. Saturday. The witness said FBI agents told him they were investigating a man who lived in the building.
Saturday afternoon FBI Special Agent Barbara Woodruff said it was an ongoing investigation but "the scene is definitely secured so there's no reason for concern."
Woodruff would not confirm any details or specify how the bureau was assisting.
Rivera was charged with second degree recklessly creating a risk of widespread injury or damage; fourth degree failure to mitigate against recklessly creating a risk of widespread injury or damage; third degree unlawful possession of a destructive device; fourth degree unlawful possession of a stun gun; fourth degree unlawful possession of a large capacity ammunition magazine; and second degree unlawful possession of an assault firearm.
Agencies investigating include the Ridgewood Police Department; Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office; Bergen County Police Department Bomb Squad; FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force; and the Bergen County Sheriff’s Department’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation.