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Man arrested for leaving pipe bombs at cell phone stores

A Whittemore, Michigan, man was arrested Tuesday in two separate criminal complaints related to the placement of explosive packages outside cellphone stores in Cheboygan and Sault Ste Marie, Michigan.

Charged was John Douglas Allen, 75.

According to the affidavit, on September 15, 2021, at approximately 7:36 p.m., a United States Postal Service (USPS) box with black tape on it and a wire coming out of it was placed outside of an AT&T Store, located at 2972 W 8th Street, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Later that evening at approximately 10:10 p.m., another USPS box with black tape on it and a wire coming out of it was placed outside of the Verizon Store, located at 1006 S Main Street Plaza 27, Suite 3, Cheboygan, Michigan. 

The two devices recovered were examined by the FBI laboratory Explosive Unit, which concluded that the two devices 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 envelopes 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 in prison. Allen was scheduled to make an initial appearance Tuesday in Bay City on the complaint pending in the Eastern District of Michigan. A date has not yet been set for his appearance in the Western District of Michigan to answer those charges.

The charges in a complaint are merely allegations. A defendant remains innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law. The investigation is continuing.

The announcement of the suspect’s arrest was issued jointly on Tuesday by Eastern District of Michigan Acting United States Attorney Saima Mohsin and Western District of Michigan United States Attorney Andrew Birge. Mohsin and Birge were joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Timothy Waters, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Detroit Division.

This 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, the US

Coast Guard, US 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.

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