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Man Charged After 4,000 Pounds Of Explosives Found

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MARQUETTE (AP)- A northern Michigan man has been found with more than 4,000 pounds of explosives and detonation equipment in the western Upper Peninsula, officials said.

John Francis Lechner, 64, of Sault Ste. Marie, was ordered held by the U.S. District Court in Marquette at a Monday hearing, the Mining Journal reported. He was arrested last week and faces possession of explosives and other charges.

“For reasons that are completely unexplained, the defendant was in possession of 4,000 pounds of explosives with enough blasting caps, detonator cord and boosters to ignite that,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy Greeley said. “The court has been given no reason for him to have that.”

It wasn’t specified what authorities believed Lechner intended to do with the explosives, but they claim he had made anti-government statements.

The Associated Press sent an email seeking comment to public defender Paul Peterson early Tuesday.

Timothy DeClare, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, testified that with the help of an informant he found 4,150 pounds of ammonium nitrate/fuel oil. He said the explosive is used in commercial enterprises such as mining.

Lechner had applied for a permit to legally possess the explosive in the past, but was never granted one, DeClare said.

According to an affidavit in the case, the informant tipped the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Department about the explosives. The informant helped Lechner move the material to a location in Dafter Township, the affidavit said, and ATF agents found more than 80 bags of material.

A box of explosive boosters, two rolls of detonating cord and two boxes of blasting caps were found at his mother’s home, the affidavit said.

The other charges came earlier this month. According to court documents, Lechner was arraigned Sept. 13 in Chippewa County Circuit Court and charged with felony charges of false report of a felony, false pretenses and assaulting, resisting and obstructing a police officer.

If convicted of the explosives charge, Lechner faces up to 10 years in prison.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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