An Aliso Viejo man was sentenced Monday to almost five years in federal prison for intentionally running over and severely injuring a U.S. Customs and Border Protection employee in Laguna Niguel, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
Geoffrey Rickner, 48, struck CBP Security Specialist Jose Gutierrez with his Mercedes-Benz sedan before plowing it into the Chet Holifield Federal Building in March 2016, authorities said.
The car was going so fast that it crashed through the Ziggurat’s metal garage door and only stopped when it slammed into a concrete wall inside the building.
Gutierrez suffered permanent and life-threatening injuries, including head trauma, broken ribs, internal bleeding and badly injured his legs. He continues to suffer from a painful physical impairment, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Rickner pleaded guilty in May to one felony count of assault on a federal employee by use of a dangerous and deadly weapon and inflicting bodily injury.
The man, who is accused of being involved in a “tax denial” group and not paying taxes, incurred large civil penalties for non-payment of tax and was involved in a years-long dispute with the Internal Revenue Service.
“Although the financial mess was entirely of his own making, the resulting stress made defendant frustrated and angry…with the IRS and, more generally, the U.S. government,” the sentencing brief read.
In the hours leading up to the crash, Rickner was detained by the building’s security officers after he started “behaving suspiciously” and making comments about “owing money to the Internal Revenue Service,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
He was later seen “pacing the building in an agitated manner, and he subsequently got into his car, later crashing into Mr. Gutierrez in the crosswalk,” according to the news release.