A Whittemore, Michigan man might spend the rest of his life in prison after pleading guilty yesterday to two separate criminal cases related to the placement of explosive packages outside cellphone stores in Cheboygan and Sault Ste Marie and threatening to destroy cell sites.
John Douglas Allen pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Thomas Ludington in Bay City, Michigan. Allen faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on November 9, 2022.
During the plea hearing, Allen admitted that during the morning of September 15, 2021, 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.
Later that evening, Allen placed a similar box outside of a Verizon Store in Cheboygan. The two devices were examined by the FBI laboratory Explosive Unit, which concluded that the two boxes contained improvised explosive devices (IEDs), also commonly referred to as pipe bombs.
Both pipe bombs contained shrapnel and a threat note demanding $5 million. 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.
In addition, Allen pleaded guilty to placing letters containing threats aimed at telecommunications providers at cell towers located in the Upper Peninsula.
The incidents began on August 25, 2021, when an employee at a telecommunications tower in St. Ignace found a letter. At least two more letters in zip lock bags were found the next day.
“The actions of this defendant could have resulted in significant bodily harm or death to citizens in the area,” stated U.S. Attorney Dawn Ison in a statement. “Thanks to the hard work of our law enforcement partners and prosecutors, we were able to find and remove these dangerous devices before the defendant could cause serious harm.”