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Contraband
04/20/2012

Second Michigan man arrested in explosives investigation

Suspected of possessing more than two tons of bomb-making materials

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – A second man suspected to be involved in an explosives investigation was arrested Thursday by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and deputies with the Chippewa County Sherriff's Department.

Kenneth Kassab, 53, of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., was taken into custody without incident Thursday on charges related to the unlawful transportation of explosives and possession of explosives by a convicted felon.

Both charges carry a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in federal prison.

Donald Davis, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan; David McCain, ATF special agent in charge in Detroit; and Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge for HSI Michigan and Ohio, announced the arrest.

Kassab was listed in a superseding indictment as a co-defendant with John Francis Lechner, 65, also a resident of Sault Ste. Marie. Lechner was originally the sole defendant in an explosives case stemming from the discovery of 4,200 pounds of a mixture of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil, commonly known as "ANFO," and various other explosive materials, in September 2011. Lechner was arrested last September and remains in custody.

The superseding indictment repeats Lechner's original charges and also adds charges relating to his possession of ANFO with Kassab in November 2010.

Lechner had been set to be tried on the original charges May 21, 2012. With the addition of Kassab as a co-defendant, the trial date is likely to be rescheduled for later in the summer.

An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.