PORTLAND – An Alfred man who made pipe bombs to protect his marijuana-growing operation was sentenced Tuesday to 35 years in prison — the mandatory minimum for the federal offenses to which he pleaded guilty.

Robert Infante, 47, had entered conditional guilty pleas in June to possession of firearms and ammunition by a felon, possession of an unregistered destructive device, manufacturing marijuana, and possession of a destructive device in relation to drug trafficking.

U.S. District Court Judge D. Brock Hornby sentenced Infante to five years for each of the first three charges, all to run concurrently, and 30 years for the fourth, which cannot run concurrently with the other penalties. A fifth charge, possession of a firearm in relation to drug trafficking, was dismissed.

“It is essentially for you, at your age, a life sentence,” Hornby told Infante. He said the severity of the penalty reflects Congress’ view of the danger of the crimes.

Infante addressed the court briefly.

“There’s really nothing to say,” he said. “There’s mandatory minimums involved, and there’s no way to get around those mandatory minimums.”

Infante’s conditional pleas allow him to appeal earlier court rulings that allowed evidence from a search of his home and statements he made to authorities to be included in his case.

Infante indicated Tuesday that he intends to appeal on that basis, and appeal the sentence.

J. Hilary Billings, the assistant federal defender appointed to represent Infante, said his client accepted responsibility through his pleas and is taking a philosophical approach to his situation.

Billings said the case was frustrating from a defense attorney’s perspective because Congress left so little room for a judge’s discretion.

Infante lost part of his left middle finger when a bomb exploded in his home on Avery Way on June 25, 2010. He called 911, said a small propane tank had exploded and asked for an ambulance. He started driving himself to the hospital when he got tired of waiting, according to court documents.

First responders who went to Infante’s home found pipe bombs, firearms, ammunition and more than 100 marijuana plants. According to the prosecution, Infante told an investigator that he made the bombs because he was worried about people knowing about his marijuana operation and because there had been break-in attempts at his home.

Infante told investigators he had a fascination with pipe bombs, according to the criminal complaint.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacey Neumann said Infante was lucky that he was not injured more seriously. “This was an extremely dangerous act. Mr. Infante’s house had numerous bombs in it,” she said.

In 1987, Infante was sentenced to three years in prison for possessing a destructive device, according to the federal Bureau of Prisons. He was eligible to receive time off for good behavior.

He was sentenced again in 1989 for possessing a destructive device and making false statements, receiving a five-year sentence.

In 1993, Infante 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.

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at: [email protected]