DOWNTOWN L.A. — A homeless man pleaded not guilty to charges he set off a homemade bomb near a Santa Monica synagogue.

Sixty-year-old Ron Hirsch entered pleas Monday in Los Angeles federal court to four felonies involving use of an explosive and a destructive device. He faces up to 70 years in federal prison if convicted.

Hirsch is accused of setting off an April 7 explosion that caused a 250-pound steel pipe partially encased in concrete to crash through the roof of a home next to the Chabad House synagogue on 17th Street near Broadway.

Some debris went through the ceiling of a bedroom where a 12-year-old girl was sleeping, but nobody was hurt.

After fleeing Los Angeles via bus and becoming the subject of an intense nationwide manhunt, Hirsch was taken into custody in Cleveland on April 11. The U.S. Marshals Service returned him to Los Angeles on April 22, and a U.S. magistrate judge ordered him held without bond.

He also faces state charges that carry a potential life sentence.

In that case, Hirsch is charged with one count each of explosion with intent to murder, use of a destructive device and explosive to injure or destroy, possession of a destructive device near a public place and possession of a destructive device near a residence.

Santa Monica police originally believed the explosion was caused by a strange mechanical failure underground, but a lengthy, forensic post-blast investigation determined the explosion was the result of a bomb. Investigators said items found in and around the crime scene are linked to Hirsch, who is said to have frequented area synagogues and Jewish community centers seeking handouts.

Hirsch, who also used the names Ronald Jay Fisher and Israel Fisher, constructed the projectile device using elements including concrete, explosive powder, dry ice and what appears to be an expansion joint sealant, or other expanding plastic or foam, authorities said.

The oddly-constructed mechanical launcher appears to have been highly effective at hurling its material, although it did not seriously damage the Chabad House, which appears to have been its target.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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