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UPDATE: Arrest made in case involving explosive devices left in Sault Ste. Marie, downstate

75-year-old John Douglas Allen, of Whittemore, is facing federal charges of Extortion and Attempted Damage or Destruction of Buildings Used in Interstate Commerce.
FBI logo and police lights background.
FBI logo and police lights background.(WLUC/FBI)
Published: Sep. 17, 2021 at 12:28 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 21, 2021 at 1:05 PM EDT
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DETROIT (WLUC) - UPDATE: Later Sept. 22: A Whittemore, Mich. resident was arrested Tuesday in two separate criminal complaints related to the placement of explosive packages outside cellphone stores in Cheboygan and Sault Ste Marie.

That was announced by Eastern District of Michigan Acting United States Attorney Saima Mohsin and Western District of Michigan United States Attorney Andrew Birge. Whittemore and Cheboygan are in the Eastern District and Sault Ste. Marie is in the Western District. Mohsin and Birge were joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Timothy Waters, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Detroit Division.

75-year-old John Douglas Allen is facing charges for the incidents.

According to the court affidavit, on Sept. 15, 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, in Sault Ste. Marie.

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, in Cheboygan.

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 envelops 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 made an initial appearance Tuesday afternoon 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 federal district attorneys remind the public that charges in a complaint are merely allegations. A defendant remains innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

The investigation is congoing, and 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.

UPDATE: Sept. 22: An arrest has been made in regards to explosive devices left in multiple locations in Michigan last week.

Last night, the FBI’s Detroit Division and Michigan State Police arrested an individual on charges related to the placement of explosive devices outside cellphone stores in Cheboygan and Sault Ste. Marie.

The FBI says that until that individual appears before a judge, no additional identifying information can be released.

Since these devices were found on Thursday afternoon, 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, and Sault Ste. Marie Tribal Police, the US Coast Guard, US Border Patrol and ATF have been working around the clock to identify and apprehend this subject.

“An investigation this fast-moving cannot be successful without good partnerships,” Special Agent in Charge Timothy Waters said in an FBI release Tuesday. “The tireless efforts and seamless coordination amongst all the investigative agencies were critical to quickly identifying and arresting the subject, disrupting the threat this individual posed to the public.”

Agent Waters is asking for anyone with information about this investigation to contact the FBI at 1-800-CALLFBI or submit tips to tips.fbi.gov.

ORIGINAL STORY: The FBI is asking the public for information leading to the identification of the individuals responsible for two explosive devices which were left outside cellphone stores in Cheboygan and Sault Ste. Marie.

On Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, two explosive devices were discovered at cellphone stores in Sault Ste. Marie and Cheboygan.

Law enforcement officers and bomb technicians from the Michigan State Police and the FBI responded to the locations and rendered the devices safe. Both devices were contained inside USPS Priority Mail boxes, sealed with black duct tape, and placed outside the cellphone stores.

There were threatening notes addressed to Verizon and AT&T on the top of each box. The notes were signed either “HJ” or “Handcuff Johnny.” The letters “CMT” were written on each box.

The FBI and Michigan State Police believe these devices are related to a series of letters discovered in the Upper Peninsula last month. The letters, claiming to be from the “Coalition for Moral Telecommunications” (CMT) were found at multiple telecommunications tower sites across the U.P. The letters made specific demands to the telecommunications companies.

The FBI is seeking information regarding the person(s) responsible for the letters and explosive devices.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI. Tips can also be submitted online at tips.fbi.gov. Individuals who provide information may remain anonymous.

This investigation is being worked jointly by the FBI, Michigan State Police, Cheboygan Police Department, Cheboygan County Sheriff’s Office, Sault Ste. Marie Police Department, and Sault Ste. Marie Tribal Police.

The FBI reminds members of the public to remain vigilant and not touch, move, or handle any suspicious or unknown packages, but to call the nearest law enforcement agency.

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