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Mark Charles Barnett Charged With Target Bomb Plot / Stock Scheme

February 17, 2017

United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III signed a criminal complaint charging Mark Charles Barnett (48, Ocala) with possession of a firearm (destructive device) affecting commerce by a previously convicted felon. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. Barnett is currently in custody at the Marion County Jail on state charges for violating his terms of probation.

According to the affidavit supporting the criminal complaint, Barnett offered a confidential source (CS) $10,000 to place improvised explosive bombs in Target retail stores along the east coast of the United States. Barnett created at least 10 of the explosive devices, disguised in food-item packaging, which Barnett delivered to the CS on February 9, 2017. Barnett then asked the CS to place the explosive devices on store shelves from New York to Florida. He also provided the CS with a bag of gloves, a mask, and a license plate cover to disguise the CS’s identity from law enforcement.

Barnett theorized that the company’s stock value would plunge after the explosions, allowing him to cheaply acquire shares of Target stock before an eventual rebound in prices. Rather than placing the devices on store shelves, however, the CS surrendered them to authorities. An explosives expert determined that they were capable of causing property damage, serious injury, or death to nearby persons upon detonation. A subsequent search of Barnett’s house by federal agents revealed components consistent with those used to create the explosive devices.

“The swift work of ATF Special Agents, Explosives Enforcement Officers, and other specialized violent crime resources foiled this individual’s plot that could have caused great harm to the public. Our Federal and State law enforcement partners played a vital role in supporting this investigation, and ATF will continue to work alongside the U.S. Attorney’s Office to bring this case to a successful resolution,” said Special Agent in Charge Daryl McCrary, ATF Tampa Field Division.

“Once FDLE received the information we initiated an investigation. Upon determining the nature of the threat we notified and began working jointly with our local, state and federal partners. The arrest in this case demonstrates the importance of collaboration in keeping our communities safe,” said FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen.

“The cooperation between the local, state and federal law enforcement agencies involved in this case was instrumental to quickly identifying this individual and resolving any potential threat to the public,” said Charles P. Spencer, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Jacksonville Division. “The FBI remains dedicated to working with our partners to make our communities safer.”

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Florida Department of Corrections – Probation and Parole Services, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, and the City of Ocala Police Department. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert E. Bodnar, Jr.

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