bay city – A Whitmore, Michigan resident was sentenced today to 75 months in prison in two separate criminal cases involving the defendants placing shrapnel-filled pipes outside cell phone stores in Cheboygan and Sault Ste Marie, Michigan Bomb for $5 million extortion plot, Eastern District announced Michigan U.S. Attorney Dawn N. Ison and Michigan Western District U.S. Attorney Mark Totten. Whittemore and Cheboygan are in the East End and Sault Ste. Mary is in the West End.
Ison and Totten made the announcement along with James A. Tarasca, FBI Special Agent in Charge at the Detroit bureau.
John Douglas Allen, 76, was sentenced before U.S. District Judge Thomas Ludington in Bay City, Michigan. Allen pleaded guilty to extortion by improper use of force, violence and fear, as well as two counts of attempting to damage a building with an explosive device in July.
Allen admitted that on September 15, 2021, at approximately 7:36 p.m., he placed a U.S. Postal Service (USPS) box with black tape and a wire outside the AT&T store in Sault, according to court records. . St. Mary, Michigan. Later that night, Allen placed another USPS box with black tape and a wire outside a Verizon store in Cheboygan, Michigan. The two devices were inspected by the Explosive Unit of the FBI laboratory, which concluded that the two devices were improvised explosive devices (IEDs), also commonly known as pipe bombs. Both tubular bombs contained shrapnel. In addition, threat notes demanding $5 million were placed on cell phone towers in the area and mailed to telecommunications companies. Based on video footage from the cell phone store and other nearby stores, as well as an exhaustive investigation by law enforcement, agents were able to determine that Allen was the one who left the package outside the store. The defendant alleges that he was motivated by what he believed to be unethical content being spread on the internet and mobile phones.
In addition, Allen admitted to placing letters containing threats against telecommunications providers in cell towers located on the Upper Peninsula.
“This defendant attempted to use terror, threats and bombs to intimidate ordinary people into doing business,” U.S. Attorney Eisen said. “We will not tolerate those who use fear to try to pay for themselves.”
“My office’s top priority is keeping our community safe,” said U.S. Attorney Mark “Totten.” “Alan’s actions in placing tube bombs in the presence of commercial enterprises endangered not only the lives of innocent individuals, but the lives of our first responders and the bomb technicians who ensured the safety of these devices. My office will continue to aggressively pursue such efforts to bring us crimes that put first responders and communities at risk.”
“Today’s verdict shows the gravity of the egregious conduct of defendants who put the lives of innocent citizens at risk in order to extort money from corporations,” said special agent James A. Tarasca) said. “This coordinated effort by Michigan’s local, state, tribal and federal law enforcement agencies helps protect communities from further harm and sends a clear message that crime does not pay off.”
The case is being investigated by special agents, intelligence analysts, officers, representatives and officers from the FBI, Michigan State Police, Cheboygan County Sheriff’s Office, Sioux St. Louis Cheboygan Police Department. Mary Police Station, Sault Ste. Mary Tribe Police, U.S. Coast Guard Bureau of Investigation, U.S. 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.