Former Army explosives tech pleads guilty to having live grenades

A Kansas Army veteran who served as an explosive ordinance disposal technician pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to unlawful possession of explosive devices.

John A. Panchalk, 42, of Overland Park, Kansas, came under scrutiny in May after a trailer belonging to him, which was being housed at a self-storage facility in Parkville, Missouri, had been vandalized. Authorities in Missouri found ammo canisters, blasting caps, a block of C-4 explosive and military grenade simulators in and around the trailer.

When police visited Panchalk’s home to ask him about the items recovered from his trailer, they found him evasive and a security check of his residence found numerous firearms and several pieces of inert military ordnance. A search warrant later turned up 38 pounds of C-4, numerous packages of electric blasting caps with shock tube, detonation cord, incendiary devices, military booby trap kits and two live M-67 fragmentation grenades from the home and he was arrested on explosives charges.

Panchalk, who had served 10 years in the military, did not have the grenades registered to him in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record.

As part of an agreement worked out between federal prosecutors and his attorney, the government dismissed the original complaint on Nov. 29 and Panchalk changed his plea to guilty on a single charge of possession of an unregistered explosive device, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The government has recommended time served, 18 months probation, forfeiture of the items seized and no fine. Sentencing will be set for a later date.