WHITTEMORE – “This [is] your last warning. Next time business hours,” reads one of the packages allegedly placed outside of two different cell phone stores recently by John Douglas Allen, 75, Whittemore.
Following a search of his home, he was arrested on the evening of Sept. 20. If convicted on the felony charges which ensued, he could be sentenced to 20 years in prison.
According to the United States Department of Justice, Allen was arrested in two separate criminal complaints related to the placement of explosive packages outside of stores in Cheboygan and Sault Ste. Marie.
The announcement was made by Eastern District of Michigan Acting United States Attorney Saima Mohsin and Western District of Michigan United States Attorney Andrew Birge. Whittemore and Cheboygan are in the Eastern District, while Sault Ste. Marie is in the Western District. Mohsin and Birge were joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Timothy Waters, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Detroit Division.
According to the affidavit, at approximately 7:36 p.m. on Sept. 15, a United States Postal Service (USPS) box with black tape on it and a wire extending from the package was placed outside the AT&T store located on Eighth Street in Sault Ste. Marie. Later that evening, at about 10:10 p.m., another USPS box – also containing black tape and with a wire coming out of it – was placed outside the Verizon store in Cheboygan’s South Main Street Plaza.
The two devices recovered were examined by the FBI Laboratory Explosive Unit, which concluded that each of the items were improvised explosive devices (IEDs), also commonly referred to as homemade bombs or pipe bombs.
Based on video footage taken from the cell phone stores and other nearby businesses, as well as an exhaustive investigation by law enforcement, agents were able to determine that Allen was the person who allegedly left the packages outside of the stores.
The affidavit further alleges that letters, placed inside polka dot envelops and sealed in zip lock bags, were left at cell towers located in the Upper Peninsula. The letters contained threats aimed at telecommunication carriers.
In each district, Allen faces charges of Extortion, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, and Attempted Damage or Destruction of Buildings Used in Interstate Commerce, which is punishable by a minimum of five years and not more than 20 years.
Although Allen reportedly told authorities that he acted alone, “We are almost thirty strong,” reads one of the letters claiming to be from the “Coalition for Moral Telecommunication (CMT),” which he allegedly distributed. It was addressed to AT&T, Verizon and all other carriers. “We are prepared to travel throughout this Country and begin [destroying] inner city tower communication unless the following is followed: 1. All telecommunication containing immoral content must be stopped. This includes cursing, the transmission of pornography, and all manner of indecent communication.”
As software must be developed, “you are therefore given six months to comply with this demand,” the message goes on.
“Also (within 180 days), you will be given instructions as to how and where you will pay us $5M to cease and desist” the second demand reads.
“You may, if you like fight this, go to the Police, FBI, or any Government Agency,” the letter continues. “Understand this: If ONE of our people is arrested, now or in the future, your problems will begin. Our reach is in 27 states thus far. After any arrest the price will go up one hundred times. Any doubts? Test us!”
The message was then signed, “CMT 5101520TG.”
Allen was to make an initial appearance last week in Bay City, on the complaint pending in the Eastern District of Michigan. As of the Department of Justice’s Sept. 22 press release on this matter, a date had not been set for his appearance in the Western District of Michigan to answer those charges.
Department representatives advise that the charges in a complaint are merely allegations. A defendant remains innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law. The department also notes that the investigation involving Allen is continuing.
The case is being investigated by special agents, intelligence analysts, troopers, deputies and officers from the FBI, Michigan State Police, Cheboygan County Sheriff’s Office, Cheboygan Police Department, Sault Ste. Marie Police Department, Sault Ste. Marie Tribal Police, U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, U.S. Border Patrol and ATF.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys J. Michael Buckley, Jerome Gorgon, Christopher O’Connor and Theodore Greeley are prosecuting the case in their respective districts.
Waters stated that since the IEDs were found, the multiple agencies involved in this case worked around the clock to identify and apprehend the subject.
“An investigation this fast-moving cannot be successful without good partnerships,” he explained. “The tireless efforts and seamless coordination amongst all the investigative agencies were critical to quickly identifying and arresting the subject, disrupting the threat this individual posed to the public.”
Waters is asking anyone with information about this investigation to contact the FBI, at 1-800-CALL-FBI, or to submit tips at tips.fbi.gov.