What to Know
- Ali was arrested in September after a Brea police officer pulled him over for having an expired registration tag on his vehicle.
- Ali has two prior convictions in for aggravated assault with serious bodily injury and making terrorist.
- Orange County District Attorney urged state lawmakers to make possession of bomb-making materials a violent felony.
A 48-year-old man was sentenced to 19 years, four months behind bars Monday for possession of bomb-making materials found in his car during a traffic stop in Brea.
Saleh Ali, who acted as his own attorney, received the maximum sentence, after telling the judge "You're a cockroach" and directing an anti-Semitic remark at a prosecutor.
In attempting to refute the argument of Deputy Orange County District Attorney Susan Laird, who was urging the judge to impose the maximum sentence, Ali said of Laird, "She seems to be confused... maybe she has a Jewish background, I don't know."
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Laird is not Jewish.
Ali was convicted March 4 of two counts each of use of a destructive device with the intent to injure, sale and transportation of a destructive device and possession of a destructive device on a public highway, along with one count of intent to unlawfully make a destructive device.
He was arrested Sept. 18, 2018, after a Brea, California, police officer pulled him over about 9 p.m. for having an expired registration tag on his vehicle.
"During the traffic stop, the officer keyed in on a couple of suspicious items in the car he believed to be an explosive device," Brea police Lt. Adam Hawley said then. "He detained the driver out of an abundance of caution, locked down a little bit of the area and called out sheriff's bomb squad deputies."
The bomb squad destroyed the suspected explosive devices at the scene, Hawley said.
Police also alerted the Orange County Intelligence Assessment Center, a coalition of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, Hawley said.
Ali has two prior convictions in June 2003 in Passaic County, New Jersey, for aggravated assault with serious bodily injury and making terrorist threats, according to court records.
After the sentencing, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer urged state lawmakers to make possession of bomb-making materials a "serious, violent felony," which would have activated the state's three-strikes law and made Ali eligible for a life sentence.