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Washington state bomb suspect likely to plead guilty

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Washington state man accused of planting a bomb along the parade route of a Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration in Spokane earlier this year is expected to plead guilty to federal charges on Wednesday, according to court records.

Kevin Harpham has been charged with four counts related to the January 17 plot, including trying to use a weapon of mass destruction by placing a backpack bomb along the parade route, possessing an improvised explosive device, and federal hate crimes.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges in April. The parade was to mark the birth of the slain civil rights leader.

Court records showed that Harpham planned to change his plea at a hearing at 9 a.m. PDT (1600 GMT) in Spokane, Washington. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment on the specific charges to which Harpham is expected to plead guilty.

He was arrested at his home on March 9 weeks after the bomb was discovered along the route of the parade, which was attended by about 1,500 people. The device was neutralized by bomb technicians after it was discovered and no one was hurt.

Officials from the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights group, have said Harpham was a member of the neo-Nazi National Alliance in 2004.

Harpham was due to go on trial next week.

(Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky, editing by Eric Beech)