Federal agents foil plans to attack U.S. presidents more often than the public knows about, but one particular assassination attempt in North Dakota surprised many. No stranger to local authorities, Gregory Lee Leingang of Bismarck hatched a wild plan to attack and harm President Donald Trump when he was in town to give a tax reform speech at the Andeavor Mandan Refinery.
The 42-year-old mechanic stole a forklift, drove it into a cordoned off area set aside specifically for the safety of the motorcade route and president, then merged into the motorcade. U.S. Assistant State’s Attorney Brandi Sasse Russell told the Bismarck Tribune that instead of executing his plan, Leingang’s forklift instead became stuck in a gated area.
“The intent was to basically try to get to the limo, flip the limo and get to the president and he wanted to kill the president,” Sasse said.
Once stuck, Leingang abandoned the forklift and fled on foot. Mandan police gave chase and tracked him down. During official police interviews, Leingang admitted his assassination plot to Mandan detectives and the United States Secret Service. Michelle Monteiro, Leingang’s public defender, said in court that her client was struggling.
“He was suffering a serious psychiatric crisis during this incident,” she said.
Before he stole the forklift to carry out his villainous plot, Leingang deliberately set two fires, one at the Bismarck Municipal Ballpark maintenance shop and another at the state parole and probation office. Leingang pleaded guilty to setting the two fires and he was sentenced to 10 years in state prison.
Leingang also pleaded guilty to stealing the forklift and was sentenced to five years. In a separate case, he also pleaded guilty to burglary and another five years was tacked onto his prison time. He originally was indicted on two criminal counts of entering a restricted area while using a dangerous weapon and attempting to damage government property. As part of his plea agreement, prosecutors agreed to drop the dangerous weapon charge.
Standing before U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Hovland, Leingang admitted that he was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and bipolar disorder as a child. He has been on and off prescription medications since he was 12-years-old. He began seeing a psychiatrist and therapist while in prison serving his terms.
By the time Leingang’s final court date and charges are litigated, he could end up serving more than 60 years in prison.