PORTLAND – Robert Infante of Alfred, who is charged by federal authorities with having pipe bombs in his house and car, has spent years in prison for similar crimes.

Infante, 47, entered no plea Monday during his initial appearance in U.S. District Court. He will be back in court Thursday for a hearing to determine whether he is entitled to bail and, if so, what conditions should be imposed on his release.

Infante is charged with a single count of possessing a destructive device, but that could change. His court-appointed federal defender, J. Hilary Billings, said prosecutors have 30 days to present their case to a grand jury to determine whether additional charges will be brought against him.

“I believe, in this case, any subsequent indictment will look a lot different than what the complaint is” now, Billings said.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says Infante not only had illegal pipe bombs in his basement, he also had guns – which he is prohibited from having because of his past felony convictions.

He also had an elaborate marijuana-growing operation in the basement of his home on Avery Road, the ATF says.

Infante was living quietly near the end of a dirt road in northern Alfred when he called rescue workers Friday to report an explosion. The responding ambulance crew passed him as he was driving himself to the hospital, his left hand wrapped in a bloody shirt. The tip of his middle finger had been blown off, federal authorities say.

Police later concluded that he was assembling pipe bombs when he dropped a container of explosive powder, which blew up.

After Infante arrived at Southern Maine Medical Center in Biddeford, police cordoned off his car. The Maine State Police bomb squad retrieved five pipe bombs from the car, federal authorities say. Inside his house, investigators found more pipe bombs, guns, and marijuana growing in the basement.

Infante told an investigator with the state Fire Marshal’s Office that he has a fascination with pipe bombs.

Infante has been in and out of federal prison since 1987, when he was convicted of possessing a destructive device and was sentenced to three years in prison, according to the federal Bureau of Prisons. He was eligible for time off for good behavior.

He was sentenced again in 1989, for possessing a destructive device and making false statements, the bureau said. That got him a five-year sentence.

In 1993, he was convicted of possession of a firearm by a felon, and was sentenced to seven years in prison with three months of probation.

In 2001, he was given an eight-month sentence for violating probation by smoking marijuana and drinking, according to U.S. District Court in Vermont.

On Monday, Billings did not have any response to the latest federal charge.

“I just met Mr. Infante this morning,” he said. “I’m still in the process of gathering information and data.”


Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: [email protected]