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Firearms, Ammunition & Explosives

Michigan man sentenced to 51 months following explosives investigation

Stock piled more than 2 tons of bomb-making materials

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — A Michigan man was sentenced to 51 months in prison Thursday for illegal transportation, possession and storage of significant quantities of explosives materials.

The sentencing culminates a joint investigation by 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.

John Lechner, 65, of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., and a co-defendant were arrested earlier this year on the charges. Lechner was convicted in June 2012 of illegal transportation, possession and storage of more than 4,200 pounds of a mixture of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil, commonly known as "ANFO," and various other explosive materials.

"The sheer volume of explosives material that this defendant possessed could have been enough to wreak untold havoc if it had been detonated. This sentence should serve as a stark reminder of the serious consequences that await those who mishandle volatile chemicals like the ones in this case," said William Hayes, acting special agent in charge for HSI Detroit. "HSI will continue to work cooperatively with our law enforcement partners to ensure that potentially dangerous items like these are only used for their intended lawful purposes."

In court documents, Lechner told an informant that he would act as an agent against the government if civil unrest broke out.