A Gaithersburg man pleaded guilty Friday to trying to make methamphetamine in a federal building.
Federal authorities charged Christopher Bartley, 41, on Aug. 17 with trying to manufacture “a substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine” in July, according to federal documents.
He had been working as a security guard for about 13 years at the National Institutes of Standards and Technology, according to spokeswoman Jennifer Huergo.
On July 18, Bartley went to work and tried to make methamphetamine under a chemical fume hood, but created an explosion that blew some of the windows away, according to the Department of Justice.
Bartley suffered burns to his head and arms, with singed eyebrows and hair.
Bartley collected remnants of the explosion from the scene and threw them in a Dumpster before driving to a different NIST building and throwing other items used to manufacture methamphetamine in the trash, police said.
In his car, authorities said, they found a list of ingredients and equipment needed to make methamphetamine, including lye, camp fuel, tubing, coffee filters, and other equipment.
He also sent an email to his supervisor titled “tonight’s explosion” in which he admitted to trying to make methamphetamine, according to the Department of Justice.
“We appreciate the quick prosecution of this case by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the thorough investigation by the FBI, the Montgomery Country Police Department, and the Drug Enforcement Administration that made it possible,” the NIST said.
The maximum sentence is 20 years, a fine of $1 million, and three years of supervised release.
“Mr. Bartley’s job is to keep people and property safe, and he obviously violated that, creating a danger to himself and other people,” said Rod Rosenstein, the U.S. attorney for the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.