Judge grants fourth delay for bomb suspect charges

JOHNSTOWN – A federal magistrate has granted another delay in the filing of formal charges against a former Penn State Altoona student arrested for having bomb-making materials in his Altoona apartment.

The latest order in the case was issued by U.S. Magistrate Keith Pesto in Johnstown.

He stated in his order made public on Tuesday that the new deadline for the filing of charges will be July 24.

The request for more time came from an assistant federal public defender, Christopher Brown, who is representing the 18-year-old former student, Vladislav Miftakhov.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James T. Kitchen agreed with the request.

“Counsel for the defendant and counsel for the government are actively engaged in discussions regarding the charges which which may be set forth in any information or indictment.

Additional time will permit the parties to explore fully the law and the particular circumstances associated with the case,” according to the petition requesting the delay.

It is the fourth time since Miftakhov’s arrest on Feb. 6 that a delay in preparing charges has been granted.

It was confirmed Wednesday he remains in the Cambria County Prison on a charge of unlawful receipt, possession or making of an unregistered firearm, destructive device.

Miftakhov, a Russian native who graduated last year from high school in California, enrolled at Penn State Altoona last fall.

He lived in an off-campus apartment, and when Altoona police went to the apartment to check on a complaint that marijuana was being grown there, they found bomb-making materials.

The continuing investigation turned up evidence Miftakhov had set off at least one bomb in a field near the campus. His defense argued in February that all Miftakhov did was blow up some dirt.

Pesto initially granted Miftakhov pretrial release, but that order was reversed by U.S. District Judge Kim Gibson after a hearing in which federal authorities testified the devices Miftakhov was making could cause injury or death.

Gibson also took into consideration that Miftakhov could be a flight risk, noting that he was not an American citizen even though he was raised in the United States from age 4 and had little connection to Russia.

Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.