The very pregnant rich kid and her Harvard-educated boyfriend arrested on December 29 in New York’s Greenwich Village for possession of explosives and weapons do not appear to be terrorists after all, police say.
Investigators say they believe 27-year-old Morgan Gliedman and 31-year-old Aaron Greene are just two more products of privilege squandering their advantages on drugs.
“It looks like they’re junkies,” a high-level police source says. “Well-to-do junkies, not terrorists.”
Indeed, in the first days of the investigation police reached the tentative conclusion that the explosives and weapons were just part of a drug-fueled, twisted sense of what constitutes cool.
Cops discovered the weapons cache when they executed a search warrant at the couple’s W. 9th Street apartment at 6 a.m. Saturday, acting on a credit-card fraud charge against Gliedman. What they found initially suggested that Gliedman and Greene might be throwbacks to the rich-kid Weatherman radicals who had blown themselves up just two blocks uptown back in 1970.
The added twist was Gliedman’s pregnancy. Not even the most radical radicals of yore had resided amidst explosives while in the ninth month.
Gliedman’s arrest date apparently coincided with her due date and she was taken to a hospital on Saturday while her prospective baby daddy was arraigned on explosives and weapons charges. He entered a not guilty plea and was remanded without bail.
Officials declined to name the hospital where Gliedman had been taken, or to confirm or deny a report that she had given birth. She appears to have no prior arrest record and no previous troubles with the law, beyond the credit-card charge that led to her arrest.
She grew up on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and attended Dalton Academy, a prestigious private school. Her parents, prominent oncologist Dr. Paul Gliedman and realtor Susyn Schops Gliedman, could not be reached for comment. A check of her Facebook friends showed a who’s who of the sons and daughters of some of New York’s richest and most notable families.
According to a neighbor who asked not to be named, a very different Gliedman moved into the apartment seven years ago, when she was an undergraduate at NYU.
“She was seemingly a happy-go-lucky girl,” the neighbor told The Daily Beast.
After graduating from NYU, Gliedman earned a master's degree in creative writing at the Art Institute of Chicago, according to her Facebook page. She returned to her apartment two years ago, no longer manifestly happy and not looking so lucky.
“A very changed person,” the neighbor says.
Greene moved in around the same time, according to her neighbor, who describes both Greene and this very different Gliedman as “very unsociable people.”
"They were very insular and seemed kind of in their own world," the neighbor says.
The neighbor remembers that Gliedman often had friends to the apartment during her NYU days. That changed when Greene took up residence.
“They kept the apartment filthy and they had vermin problems,” the neighbor says.
The neighbor lends credence to the police view when he adds, “There was always a heavy cloud of smoke emanating from the place, and one got the sense that they were both heavily into drugs.”
Green’s personal hygiene, cops say, is what might have been expected of a junkie.
"To be honest, you could smell him before you saw him," the neighbor says.
The neighbor said that he could not help but be concerned on seeing that Gliedman was pregnant. He reports that Gliedman’s mother had visited often in recent days, as might be expected with the baby’s imminent arrival.
The other visitors were the police. The criminal complaint filed against Greene and Gliedman says that the cops discovered a plastic container in the living room holding seven grams of a white power that was identified as Hexamethylene Triperoxide Diamine, or HMTD, an easy-to-make explosive and a favorite of actual terrorists.
The complaint says that police also found the makings for more of the stuff, as well as a sawed-off 12-gauge Mossberg 500 shotgun, a Ruger 12-gauge shotgun, a dozen 12-gauge shotgun shells, 9 high-capacity rifle magazines, and 60 5.56-caliber tracer rounds. There was also a 37mm flare launcher, a replica of a M203 grenade launcher.
The complaint also lists a number of books and manuals said to be found in the apartment:
- The Terrorist’s Encyclopedia V. 1.02
- FM 5-25 Explosives and Demolitions
- FM 5-31 Booby Traps
- Improvised and Modified Firearms: Deadly Homemade Weapons
- A Do-It-Yourself Submachine Gun
- Street Sweeper: A Home Workshop Shotgun
- Building the M11/9: A Guide to Construction and Coercion
- FM 5-25 Explosives and Demolitions
- FM 5-31 Booby Traps
These were seized, along with what police describe as various handwritten notebooks containing formulas.
But further investigation produced no indication that this was a case of Gossip Girl gone terrorist.
“So far, no plot,” the senior police official said.
The official did not offer an explanation as to why the couple had allegedly amassed all the requirements of a terror cell but apparently not the intent. The absence of drugs in the apartment has apparently not dissuaded them from taking the view that the two are junkies with advantages.
Police report that Greene has been arrested three times on weapons charges, in 2005, 2006, and most recently in February, when he was also charged with drug possession. He had one prior arrest for drugs in 2004, an assault charge along with the weapons collar in 2005. He was also busted for evading the subway fare in his home precinct in 2011—a grown man with two Harvard degrees and a Dalton girlfriend charged with hopping a subway turnstile like a like schoolkid.
The disposition of the various cases was not immediately clear, though police records for the 2006 weapons arrest notes a “prior felony conviction.”
People with extensive knowledge of the Occupy Wall Street movement were saying that they had never heard of Greene. They discounted a news report that he was an OWS activist.
By midday Sunday, police had reached the tentative conclusion that the explosives and weapons were part of some drug-fueled fantasy life. To cops, Greene appears to be living proof that going to Harvard does not necessarily make you any less a knucklehead.
As for Gliedman, it may turn out that the raid on the apartment was the best thing that could have happened for her child, who can now expect to begin life in the New Year away from explosives and guns.