A Michigan man was charged with possessing over 4,000 pounds of explosives and allegedly told an informant that “when the government takes over, we will be mercenaries.”
John Francis Lechner was ordered to be held without bond on Monday after ATF agents found 4,100 pounds of explosives, 2,000 feet of detonating cord and dozens of blasting caps at three locations.
According to a complaint from ATF Special Agent Timothy DeClaire, on September 20 a confidential informant contacted the Chippewa County Undersheriff Michael Bitnar, and described how Lechner allegedly said he had “a large quantity of ammonium nitrate/fuel oil mix,” or ANFO, and that he needed help moving it. ANFO is commonly used in commercial construction. Lechner also allegedly said that he had detonating cord, blasting caps ad boosters.
The CI then wore a wire while helping Lechner move the explosives, and asked him what he planned to do with it. “When the government takes over, we will be mercenaries,” Lechner allegedly said.
“He’s not a terrorist, he’s not a mercenary, he’s not some freedom fighter,” Lechner’s attorney Charles Malette told the AP “He intended no type of violence, pro or anti-government. The man is not like that.”
Lechner was charged with several felonies in July, including false report of a felony and assaulting, resisting and obstructing a police officer. He was also charged with being a habitual offender, according to the complaint. It’s a 10-year felony to posses explosives while under indictment for 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 in Monday’s hearing, according to the Marquette Mining Journal. “The court has been given no reason for him to have that and he was making efforts to hide that from the ATF, as the testimony indicates, and made anti-government statements.”