An Aliso Viejo man pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal charges in a vehicular assault that injured a U.S. Customs and Border Protection employee in Orange County, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release.
Geoffrey Rickner, 48, ran over CBP Security Specialist Jose Gutierrez before plowing his Mercedes-Benz sedan into the Chet Holifield Federal Building in Laguna Niguel in March 2016, authorities said.
Gutierrez, who was in a well-marked crosswalk and wearing a federal employee identification card, suffered permanent and life-threatening injuries, including head trauma, broken ribs, internal bleeding and badly damaged legs. He was hospitalized for nearly three weeks and continues to suffer from a painful physical impairment, according to the news release.
After hitting Gutierrez, the car kept speeding towards the building before going through a metal garage door and then crashing into a concrete wall inside the building, the DOJ said.
In the hours leading up to the crash, Rickner was detained by the building’s security officers after he started “behaving suspiciously” and made comments about “owing money to the Internal Revenue Service,” according to court documents.
Authorities did not provide information on any IRS investigation involving Rickner.
Rickner allegedly had a grudge against the federal government, the Los Angeles Times reported at the time of the incident, citing an anonymous source.
The defendant pleaded guilty to one felony count of assault on a federal employee by use of a dangerous and deadly weapon and inflicting bodily injury. He was facing a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison, the DOJ said.