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Illinois man who set off pipe bomb at Salt Lake Library wants court to toss his conviction

Thomas James Zajac
Thomas James Zajac
Weber County Jail

SALT LAKE CITY — An Illinois man who set off a pipe bomb at the Salt Lake City Library more than a decade ago wants a federal judge to throw out his conviction and give him a new prison sentence.

An attorney for Thomas James Zajac, 65, argues in a new court filing that a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision makes him innocent of one of the six crimes for which a jury convicted him in 2010.

The high court found parts of the charge of using a destructive device in relation to a crime of violence unconstitutionally vague and made the ruling retroactive.

"Mr. Zajac has now been convicted of an offense that is no longer criminal," according to his motion in U.S. District Court to vacate his prison sentence.

A jury convicted Zajac of six charges: attempting to damage a building with an explosive device; using a destructive device in relation to a crime of violence; possession of an unregistered destructive device; felon in possession of a destructive device; possession of a destructive device following a domestic violence conviction; and using the mail to threaten the use of explosives.

A federal judge sentenced him to 35 years in prison. He is currently incarcerated near Chicago. His release date is May 2037.

At trial, prosecutors showed that Zajac became infuriated with Salt Lake police for arresting his son for DUI. Instead of directing his anger at his son, he traveled from Illinois expressly to place a bomb in the library as an act of revenge in September 2006.

The explosion damaged a third-floor window and forced 400 people to evacuate. No one was injured.