DID VALLEY MAN PLAN TERROR ACT?
An investigation of a West Hills accountant for stealing a pickup truck led to uncovering an arsenal of assault weapons and explosives that authorities suspect he intended to use in terrorist attacks, officials said Wednesday.
John Noster Jr., 38, who was sentenced to 16 months in prison in January for vehicle theft, now is under investigation by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which described him as ``an anti-government extremist.''
Authorities said they seized weapons from a stolen pickup truck and storage units in Lancaster and Culver City that included two incendiary devices, three pipe bombs, six 55-gallon drums of highly explosive jet fuel, five assault rifles, thousands of rounds of military ammunition, smokeless powder, cannon fuse and electric matches, and $188,000 in cash.
``He had put together everything that was needed to cause severe destruction to some type of building or location,'' sheriff's Sgt. John DeMooy said during a news conference at Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department headquarters in Monterey Park. ``I think he was very close.''
Federal investigators became involved in the case last year as the Sheriff's Department's auto theft task force was investigating Noster's theft of a white GMC Sierra pickup and six all-terrain vehicles. Deputies uncovered evidence leading them to the storage lockers and the cache of weapons.
Handwritten notes Noster left in the Lancaster storage unit mentioned the ``New World Order,'' the Council on Foreign Relations and other hot-button terms among anti-government conspiracy buffs.
Noster also had detailed how he planned to use an $8,000 two-seat gyro helicopter to drop an incendiary bomb that would ignite after a several-second delay, investigators said.
``He could have flown to the top of a building and dropped a device and burned it down,'' DeMooy said.
Until Noster's arrest last November for vehicle theft, he never had a criminal record.
Noster resigned in November 2000 as an accountant for Jas. D. Easton Corp., the parent company of Easton Sports, a Van Nuys-based manufacturer of softball, baseball and hockey equipment, a company spokesman said.
``The $188,000 in cash was found in a cardboard box inside a garage with a $3 padlock on it,'' DeMooy said. ``So there are a couple of different areas where this money came from. We have identified a couple of the sources, but probably not all of it.''
Noster spent the past few years traveling in the stolen pickup to Texas, Arkansas and Oregon, apparently living out of the attached camper.
When he wasn't traveling, Noster had resided in West Hills with his parents, Doris Noster, who died about a year ago, and John Noster Sr., neighbors said. They described the elder Nosters as caring, involved citizens and said John Jr. had played football for Chatsworth High School.
``I have lived here for 43 years and they are one of the nicest families in the whole area,'' said a neighbor, who declined to give her name. ``My kids grew up with them. He was probably the best-behaved kid on the block.''
Authorities are searching for a 29-foot trailer, with a license number 1WY2901, that Noster had reported stolen nearly two years ago.
``We have some indication there might be some items in there that are significant,'' DeMooy said. ``Also, by releasing the name of (Noster) it might lead to someone to come forward to present some additional information as to maybe a specific target he had planned.''
Staff Writer Lisa Sodders contributed to this story.
Troy Anderson, (213) 974-8985
(color) John Noster Jr., 38, serving 16 months in prison for auto theft, is suspected by federal agents of stashing weapons that could blow up a building.