Man Wanted 14 Years as Bank Bomber Arrested

Times Staff Writer

A man who has been wanted for 14 years on charges that he planted bombs in banks in New York, Chicago and San Francisco has been arrested here, the FBI announced Wednesday.

The arrest came Tuesday after the FBI received a tip from a police officer who recognized Ronald Kaufman, 48, from a picture in an FBI bulletin. Kaufman was arrested without incident outside of his San Francisco residence and acknowledged his real identity to police officers, FBI Agent Richard Held said.

The police officer, who was not named, had seen Kaufman's picture in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin magazine and tipped off FBI agents, Held said.

Named in Indictment

Kaufman is being held without bail and will be arraigned here next Wednesday in a U.S. magistrate court. He is expected to be charged on 13 counts from an outstanding 1972 indictment, including charges that he made bombs and placed them in banks, possessed firearms without registration, and sent bomb-warning letters to news media.

Additionally, if indictments are brought in from New York and Illinois, Kaufman could face charges on as many as 40 counts.

A warrant for Kaufman's arrest was issued in January, 1972, after news organizations in several U.S. cities received letters warning that "during July, 1971, nine unusual prototype bombs were planted in different banks across the country" and that such devices could be used to demand the release of "political prisoners," the FBI said.

Laboratory analysis linked Kaufman to the attempted bombings through fingerprints found on bomb components. The analysis also concluded that the devices--made of battery-powered calendar clocks, flash bulbs and black powder--were capable of exploding.

Vault Was Damaged

Of three bombs found in San Francisco, one exploded in the Bank of America, damaging a vault area, said Frank Jordan, San Francisco police chief. No one was injured in the explosion, but had anyone been in the vault at the time they would have been killed, Jordan said.

Kaufman has had stable employment as a maintenance worker and building manager and has become an "established citizen" during the past 14 years, said his attorney, John Philipsborn.

Born in Milwaukee, Kaufman attended Stanford University and the University of Chicago and served in the U.S. Army, the FBI said.

Kaufman's wife works for a county government office and is under investigation for possibly harboring a fugitive, Philipsborn said, adding that he could not comment on how long Kaufman had been living in San Francisco.

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