Pufferfish Poison Plot Detailed in Affidavits

     ROCKFORD, Ill. (CN) – A man’s plot to murder his wife with a neurotoxin found in pufferfish was detailed in affidavits supporting an indictment filed this week. The toxin “causes respiratory paralysis within 6-24 hours of ingestion … is naturally found in pufferfish and has no known antidote.”




     Edward Bachner, 36, was arrested in June 2008 and charged with possession of tetrodotoxin.
     According to the superseding indictment filed this week, Bachner posed as “Dr. Edmund Backer” of “EB Strategic Research,” to buy from pharmaceutical distributors, Biotum and Ascent Scientific.
     Bachner allegedly informed Ascent representatives that he “needed the drug quickly for marine antitoxin research purposes,” and an Ascent employee immediately contacted the FBI.
     Though most of the original complaint has been sealed, FBI affidavits state that the employee said a “typical” order of tetrodotoxin (TTX) was about 2 milligrams, and Bachner ordered 98 milligrams of it.
     The indictment notes that “if a bona fide researcher acquires 100 milligrams or more of TTX the researcher is required to obtain special registration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
     According to one FBI affidavit, after Bachner was arrested, agents found at his home “six empty tetrodotoxin vials … multiple needles and syringes, and a book that deals with the effective doses for poisoning people.”
     FBI agents had previously suspected Bachner in a murder-for-hire scheme in 2005, after he contacted a “cooperating witness” via a Canadian email service to solicit the murder of a “woman living in Chicago,” according to an FBI affidavit. The FBI claims Bachner offered an AK-47 and $8,000 for the hit.
     When FBI agents asked about the email exchange, Bachner denied it at first, then said he had no intent to have the killing done, he was just “bored,” according to the affidavit.
     The 10 counts in the original indictment include possession of a biological agent to use as a weapon and possession without a justified purpose. The superseding indictment includes wire fraud: that Bachner intended to kill his wife to collect more than $20 million from several life insurance policies he had taken out on her.
     The additional counts include soliciting a person to commit a federal felony, and using an interstate or foreign commerce facility for the purpose of murder.
     Bachner also is charged with three counts of falsifying federal tax returns.
     Bachner pleaded not guilty to the original charges, and is in federal custody.

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