STUART, Va. — An Ararat man considered armed and dangerous, who maintained a camp where explosive devices were found and faced a long list of related felony charges, has been sentenced to eight months in prison.
Before being arrested in Mount Airy last Sept. 18, Michael Timothy Puckett, 45, of Doe Run Road, was the subject of an two-state search that was triggered by authorities finding a cache of deadly devices at his camp in Ararat.
Puckett had attracted the attention of the Patrick County Sheriff’s Department in late August of last year after a golf cart was stolen from Hall’s Plants in Ararat. Officers received information that the cart possibly was in some woods near Doe Run Road’s intersection with Friends Mission Road.
After venturing down a dirt road and foot paths at that location, one with a camouflaged entrance, they found a parked truck and motorcycle with tags registered to Puckett, along with the stolen golf cart.
The officers also stumbled upon a large camp containing a hand grenade (subsequently determined to be a hoax), two pipe bombs inside a bag on the ground, a loaded 20-gauge sawed-off shotgun with its serial number cut out of the frame and four Molotov incendiary cocktails just outside the entrance of the makeshift encampment.
One item discovered was said to be a trip device capable of discharging a shotgun shell, as well as an AK-47 assault rifle and ammunition stockpiles, along with Nazi and Aryan paraphernalia. Puckett further was known to have a swastika tattoo on one of his arms.
Puckett wasn’t there, but deputies obtained warrants initially charging him with 11 violations: seven counts of manufacturing or possessing explosives, two counts of concealing stolen property and one count each of altering or obliterating a serial number on a firearm and possessing a sawed-off shotgun.
Patrick Sheriff Dan Smith then issued a fugitive alert seeking the whereabouts of Puckett, who was known to spend time in Surry County.
The wanted man was taken into custody by Mount Airy police in September after they spotted him on Fancy Gap Road near its intersection with Quail Trail. Puckett was armed with a handgun and was charged by city police with possession of methamphetamine, a felony, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
During an interview by a Patrick officer in the Surry County Jail, Puckett is said to have admitted to manufacturing the pipe bombs about five years before but claimed that he used them to remove stumps.
Puckett also reportedly admitted to making four Molotov cocktails in the spring of 2015 to defend himself and his girlfriend and to having the sawed-off shotgun for one year, but claimed he did not alter it or cut the barrel. He further took ownership for the hand grenade, saying he never tampered with it, while denying knowledge of the golf cart.
The Ararat man later was extradited to Patrick County and pleaded no contest in April to nine charges, including eight felonies: constructing, placing or sending a hoax fire bomb or hoax explosive device; six counts of manufacture, transport, distribute and possess or use of a fire bomb or explosive material or device; and possession or use of a sawed-off shotgun or rifle.
He also pleaded no contest, which carries the same weight as a guilty plea, to a misdemeanor violation of removal of a serial number from a firearm.
On June 30 in Patrick County Circuit Court in Stuart, Puckett was sentenced to a total of 41 years on the various charges.
However, a court spokeswoman explained Thursday that he is to serve only one month of active time for each of the felony charges, for the eight-month total.
Puckett received a 12-month suspended sentence on the misdemeanor serial number offense, and will be given credit for time served, she said, and put on probation after his release.
Sheriff Smith, who was adamant in efforts to locate Puckett last year, could not be reached for comment Thursday on the sentence the man ultimately received.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.