Martin S. Kimber of Ruby, N.Y., pleaded guilty to two counts of using chemical weapons and a third for consumer-product tampering in a federal courtroom in Albany, for leaving mercury three times in 2011 and once in 2012 in the Albany Medical Center's hospital men's bathroom, the emergency department, on a pedestrian ramp and in the cafeteria in a cooler, fruit bowls, salad bar and toasters.
Placement of mercury in toasters and heating lamps made it possible for the mercury to vaporize and become even more dangerous. One hospital employee became sick after eating the mercury, the prosecutor said.
U.S. Attorney Craig Benedict told reporters after Thursday's hearing Kimber faces the possibility of life in federal prison when he is sentenced March 7 by Senior U.S. District Court Justice Lawrence Kahn. Kimber must also pay Albany Medical Center $200,451 in restitution and forfeit his home and vehicle.
"I certainly think that citizens should take a breath of relief that he's locked away," Benedict told the Albany Times Union. The attacks were "not directed against any one individual but broadly dispersed against anyone who might be in a position to come into contact with it -- and in that instance, we believe, a form of domestic terrorism. What he was endeavoring to do was cause panic at the hospital so individuals would be afraid of gaining treatment there and would stop coming."
Kimber, a licensed pharmacist for 36 years in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., until 2010, spread the mercury to punish the hospital for billing him $9,000 for treatment he said he did not have to pay for, Benedict said.
Surveillance footage at the hospital showed Kimber distributing the silver balls of mercury in food in the cafeteria. Highway and E-ZPass travel records placed him at the Albany Medical Center off ramp, the prosecutor said. Investigators found canisters of mercury in Kimber's car and home, the Times Union said.
Court papers said a search of Kimber's home and automobile found child pornography, 20 guns, 50 knives and 1,000 rounds of ammunition. Benedict said the child porn allegation would be brought up at sentencing.
Kimber had a Nazi swastika prominently displayed on a wall of his house and expressed fondness for "The Turner Diaries," a 1978 novel that inspired Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, court papers said.
Kimber's attorney said his client's life spiraled out of control because of problems including alcoholism.