A jury found Joel Elliott guilty on all four counts related to the arson of the Sheridan County Attorney's office last year.

The 12-member jury deliberated for about three hours before reaching its verdict about 7 p.m. Thursday after three days of testimony before U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl.

The indictment charged Elliott with arson by means of an explosive of a building receiving federal funds creating a substantial risk of injury; using a firearm (in this case an incendiary bomb) during a crime of violence of a building receiving federal funds; possession of an unregistered firearm, namely a improvised incendiary bomb; and false declaration before a grand jury. If convicted on all counts, Elliott could face from 37 years to life imprisonment. (A count of using fire or an explosive to commit a felony was later dismissed.)

He was arraigned in April and pleaded not guilty in June.

According to the penalties outlined in the indictment, he could spend 37 years to life imprisonment.

His sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 18.

In his closing argument Thursday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Stuart Healy III said Elliott was about to plead guilty to a forgery count in Sheridan County Court on June 5. The criminal complaint also stated he was jealous that his ex-girlfriend was friends with people in the Sheridan attorney's office.

Healy said Elliott was so desperate to “buy time” that he built an explosive device and poured gasoline throughout the office early June 4, 2014. The fire that erupted caused $900,000 in damage.
Elliott's defense attorney Keith Nachbar said everybody agrees that there was a fire, it was intentional, and it took about 10 minutes to extinguish. But the fire was no more dangerous than any other fire, and the gasoline fumes had mostly dissipated at the time of ignition, he said.

Without admitting or denying Elliott did anything, Nachbar added the "destructive device” was PVC pipe a few inches long with a cap on one end and a piece of paper covering the other end. “This is far from a pipe bomb.”