Ryan Chamberlain, the former San Francisco political consultant who in 2014 was the subject of a brief manhunt after federal agents said they had discovered bomb-making materials in his North Beach apartment, has pleaded guilty to charges he illegally possessed a biological toxin.
In a 10-page plea agreement disclosed Tuesday in federal court in San Francisco, Chamberlain admitted visiting a clandestine website to purchase abrin.
Abrin is a deadly toxin derived from the fruit of a flowering plant called the rosary pea, native to South and Southeast Asia and parts of Africa. The U.S. government requires those who possess such biological agents, which include poisons like ricin and a long list of pathogens, to register.
Chamberlain also pleaded guilty to possession of a .22-caliber Derringer pistol from which the serial number had been removed.
The two charges could bring a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine and a lifetime of supervised release. But the agreement calls for a sentence of 30 months in prison, three years of post-release supervision and an unspecified fine. Chamberlain has remained in custody since his arrest in June 2014, so it’s unclear how much longer he would remain imprisoned.
The case came to light in late May 2014 after the FBI interviewed Chamberlain about transactions he made on clandestine websites. Chamberlain evaded arrest following the interview, prompting a search of his apartment. A government complaint said agents had recovered what they believed were components for an explosive device.
The FBI launched what was described as a nationwide search for Chamberlain, who was arrested near San Francisco’s Crissy Field a little more than 48 hours after he disappeared.
U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria is scheduled to sentence Chamberlain on April 12.
The full plea agreement released Tuesday by the U.S. Attorney for Northern California is below: