Church bomb plot suspect charged in federal court

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An Illinois man charged with plotting to firebomb dozens of churches in northeastern Oklahoma with Molotov cocktails will be tried in federal — not state — court, authorities announced Wednesday.

A federal grand jury indictment unsealed Wednesday charges 24-year-old Gregory Arthur Weiler II of Elk Grove Village, Ill., with one count of possessing an unregistered, destructive device — a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine, said Joseph F. Wilson, the criminal chief for the U.S. attorney's office in the northern district of Oklahoma.

State charges against Weiler were dropped Wednesday after he was taken into federal custody, Ottawa County District Attorney Eddie Wyant said.

Weiler had been jailed in Miami, Okla., since October, when authorities arrested and charged him with threatening to use an explosive or incendiary device and violating Oklahoma's anti-terrorism law. Investigators say Weiler had instructions for making Molotov cocktails, a list of 48 churches and a written outline of a plan to bomb churches.

Authorities were tipped to the alleged plot after a maintenance man at the motel where Weiler was staying noticed a green duffel bag in a trash bin outside the building and found bottles with cloth wicks attached with duct tape inside. He also noticed an empty gas can in the bin.

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