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UP Man Pleads Guilty In Explosives Case

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John Lechner (Marquette County Sheriff's Office)

John Lechner (Marquette County Sheriff’s Office)

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TRAVERSE CITY (WWJ/AP) - A man from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula accused of buying and hiding more than 4,000 pounds of explosives has reached a plea agreement with federal prosecutors.

John Francis Lechner, 64, of Sault Ste. Marie pleaded guilty Tuesday to possessing explosives while under indictment. Four other counts were dismissed.

Lechner could get up to 10 years in prison when sentenced May 25.

A federal agent said in an affidavit last year that an informant tipped off the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Department about helping Lechner move a variety of explosives.

The agent said he obtained a search warrant and found 83 bags of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil, plus a supply of explosive boosters, detonating cord and blasting caps.

“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 previously said.

Lechner had applied for a permit to legally possess the explosive in the past, but was never granted one, according to Timothy DeClare, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

It wasn’t specified what authorities believed Lechner intended to do with the explosives, but they claim he had made anti-government statements. Lechner’s attorney said he obtained the materials years ago for construction projects.

TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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