Northern Michigan Man Sentenced for Leaving Pipe Bombs at Cell Phone Stores as Part of a $5 Million Extortion Plot

BAY CITY, MI – The United States Attorney put out a release on Wednesday indicating that the man who had placed shrapnel-filled pipe bombs at an AT&T store in Sault Ste Marie and Verizon store in Cheboygan was sentenced to 75 months in prison for his part in a $5 million extortion plot.

John Douglas Allen, 76, was sentenced before United States District Judge Thomas Ludington ln Bay City, Michigan. Allen had pleaded gullty to extortion by wrongful use of fore􀃒, violence, and
fear, as well as two counts of attempted destruction of a building using an explosive device In July.

According to court records, Allen admitted that on September 15, 2021, at approximately 7:36
pm, he placed a United States Postal Service (USPS) box with black tape on It and a wire coming out of it outside an AT&T Store in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Later that evening, Allen placed another USPS box with black tape on it and a wire coming out of it outside of a Verizon Store in Cheboygan, Michigan.

The two devices were examined by the FBI laboratory Explosive Unit, which concluded that the two devices were improvised explosive devices (IEDs), also commonly referred to as pipe bombs. Both pipe bombs contained shrapnel. In addition, threat notes demanding $5 million were placed on cell phone towers in the area as well as mailed to the telecommunications companies.

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 left the packages outside of the stores.

The defendant claimed that he was motivated by what he viewed as Immoral content being spread on the internet and cellphones.

“A top priority for my office is ensuring the safety of our communities,” said U.S. Attorney Mark Totten. “Allen’s actions in placing pipe bombs in front of commercial businesses endangered not only the lives of innocent individuals, but also our first responders and the bomb technicians who rendered those devices safe. My office will continue to aggressively pursue individuals for crimes like this that put our first responders and communities at risk.”

This case was 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 Investigative Service, US Border Patrol and ATF.

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