The San Francisco political consultant convicted of possessing biological toxins and a gun without a serial number spoke directly to the federal judge reviewing his case on Wednesday, saying he never intended to hurt anyone but himself.
“I love my people,” Ryan Chamberlain said during the sentencing hearing. “I love my city. There was never a time that anyone was threatened.”
Chamberlain was arrested by FBI agents on June 2, 2014 after finding evidence that the former consultant brought abrin — a poison made out of rosary pea plant seeds — over the “dark web” in 2013. A search of his San Francisco apartment in May 2014 also led agents to believe Chamberlain had supplies to construct a homemade bomb. Chamberlain pleaded guilty to illegally possessing a gun and the biological toxins on Feb. 16.
Despite Chamberlain’s words, District Judge Vince Chhabria called the plea agreement, which would require two-and-a-half years of prison time and three years of supervised release after his sentence, “grossly inadequate.”
Chhabria said the duration of the supervised release was not long enough to ensure public safety and instead recommended 37 months in jail and 10 years of supervised release.
He also challenged the defense’s claims, saying that though Chamberlain may have been depressed prior to his arrest, the circumstantial evidence in the case — including castor seeds, cyanide, a gun and ammunition — pointed to someone who might have wanted to harm others.
“That to me, does not sound like somebody that is only intending on killing himself,” Chhabria said.
During the sentencing hearing on Wednesday, Chamberlain and his attorney described the period of time leading up to his arrest as a “dark place” for Chamberlain, who said he was battling depression. Chamberlain appeared to be at ease during the hearing, wearing a red jumpsuit and black-frame glasses.
Assistant Federal Public Defender Elizabeth Falk called the case sad, saying that there was not enough evidence to indicate Chamberlain intended to hurt others but rather showed a man who wanted “his death to be more exciting than his life.”
Defense attorneys will meet with Chamberlain to decide how to respond to the court’s recommendation of 37 months in jail and 10 years of supervised release. If a settlement can’t be reached, the case could go to court.
Chamberlain is scheduled to appear in court again next week.