A 75-year-old Michigan man was arrested Wednesday after investigators say he left pipe bombs at two cell phone stores and threatening letters at cell towers in order to stop all telecommunications “containing immoral content,” like pornography and cursing, according to an affidavit for probable cause.
John Douglas Allen was charged with extortion and attempted damage or destruction of buildings used in interstate commerce, a US Justice Department news release said.
CNN has reached out to Allen’s attorney Stevens J. Jacobs for comment.
The incidents began on August 25, when an employee at a telecommunications tower in St. Ignace, Michigan, found a letter inside a polka dot envelope that was sealed in a plastic bag. At least two more letters in similar packaging were found the next day, the affidavit said.
The letters indicated they were from a group called the “Coalition for Moral Telecommunication (CMT),” and were addressed to “AT&T, Verizon, and all other carriers.” The group’s letter said they were “almost thirty strong,” their reach spanned across 27 states and they were willing to travel throughout the US in order to destroy “inner city tower communication” to stop the spread of immoral content, the affidavit said.
The group demanded a payment of $5 million within 180 days. The letter said if any CMT members were arrested, then “your problems will begin” and the “price will go up one hundred times.”
Three weeks later, on September 15, a man was seen on surveillance footage leaving a US Postal Service box with black tape and a wire sticking out of it outside of an AT&T store in Sault Ste. Marie and another one at a Verizon store in Cheboygan, Michigan, the affidavit said. Sault Ste. Marie is near the Canadian border in northern Michigan with Cheboygan being 73 miles south.
Both boxes were consistent with being improvised explosive devices (IEDs), or pipe bombs. Along with explosive materials, the Sault Ste. Marie box contained metal BBs and the Cheboygan box contained nails, according to the affidavit.
“The potential explosion from these devices could cause property damage, personal injury, and/or death. Each of the devices consisted of a metal pipe nipple with two metal end caps, which provided containment for the low explosive powder main charge,” the affidavit read. “Metal spheres and nails were found within the powders of each device.”
Allen is expected to make his initial court appearance on Friday before Magistrate Judge Patricia Morris.
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