SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A San Francisco paramedic accused of setting off an explosive outside a neighbor’s home last week pleaded not guilty to all charges Wednesday afternoon and was ordered into a 60-day alcohol and drug treatment program as a condition of his release on bail after missing a court appearance earlier in the day.
James Novello, 32, faces 26 felony charges in connection with an explosion Aug. 3 outside a home in the 100 block of Madrid Street in San Francisco’s Excelsior District. Officials have said the incident may have been related to a neighborhood dispute over parking.
Novello posted $178,000 bail following his initial arrest on suspicion of possession of a destructive device, detonation of a destructive device, exploding a device with intent to injure and attempted arson.
He was rearrested Tuesday shortly before his scheduled arraignment when prosecutors charged him with an additional 20 counts of possession of a destructive device. The new charges were based on the results of a search conducted after the first arrest, according to prosecutors.
Novello bailed out again Tuesday night for $250,000, but failed to make a scheduled court appearance Wednesday morning.
Judge Philip Sarkisian issued a bench warrant but recalled it this afternoon after a visibly emotional Novello returned to court in the company of his attorney.
With the agreement of prosecutors, Sarkisian instead ordered Novello to enter into a 60-day drug treatment program in Sonoma County and to submit to electronic monitoring during his release. The judge also issued an order for him to stay away from the location where the explosion occurred.
A fire department spokesman has said Novello has been placed on non-working status since the arrest. The department’s Stress Unit will be transporting Novello to the treatment program Wednesday afternoon.
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