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FBI arrests LITH man after agents raid home, confiscate deadly toxin
Man charged with having poison 1,000 times more deadly than cyanide
By Harry Hitzeman and Charles Keeshan | Daily Herald Staff

A hazardous materials team decontaminates in the driveway after a search of a home at 5704 McKenzie in Lake in the Hills Monday afternoon.

 

John Starks | Staff Photographer

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Published: 6/30/2008 2:00 PM | Updated: 7/1/2008 6:33 AM

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A Lake in the Hills man has been charged in federal court with possession of tetrodotoxin, a poison a thousand times more deadly than cyanide, FBI officials have confirmed.

Members of the FBI's anti-terrorism task force searched Edward F. Bachner's home Monday.

Bachner, 35, 5704 McKenzie Drive, appeared before a federal magistrate in Rockford at 5 p.m. Monday and was formally charged with possession of a toxin, which is a felony that calls for up to 10 years in prison upon conviction.

Kelly Brennan, an FBI spokeswoman, said Bachner was arrested Monday in Algonquin after accepting a "small quantity" of tetrodotoxin.

Also known as TTX, it is naturally produced and contained in the liver, ovaries and intestines of puffer fish. There is no cure for tetrodotoxin poisoning, which appears as a white powder that is somewhat soluble, according to government safety guidelines. It is toxic if inhaled, swallowed or comes into contact with skin.

It can be used medically in treating some cardiac arrhythmias, according to a Wikipedia entry, and it has been shown to be useful in the treatment of pain from problems ranging from cancer to heroin withdrawal.

Brennan said Bachner tried to buy 95 milligrams of tetrodotoxin over the Internet from a New Jersey-based firm, claiming he was an Illinois doctor doing research. An employee there became suspicious at the large quantity being ordered and called the FBI.

Brennan said agents looked into it and determined Bachner lied about his identity - he called himself Edmond Backer - and his company - EB Strategic Research - was fake. An undercover member of the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force met Monday with Bachner, and he was arrested, she said.

About 11:30 a.m., several vehicles pulled down McKenzie Drive to begin the search of Bachner's home. The Kane County bomb squad, police cars, fire trucks and several unmarked black SUVs and vans surrounded the two-story white colonial that eventually was cordoned off with yellow tape.

Personnel in hazardous materials suits sporadically went in and out of the garage. At least 10 agents worked on laptop computers under a blue tent set up in the street.

The avalanche of emergency vehicles, TV vans and hovering helicopters drew out curious neighbors and their kids.

"I was cutting the grass, and the bomb squad truck went by, and I said, 'You don't see that every day,'" neighbor Wayne Smith said.

Court records do not show any criminal record for Edward Bachner in McHenry County - nothing more serious than a single traffic citation.

Bachner's wife, Rebecca, does not face criminal charges at this time, Brennan said.

Neighbor Xhail Traub said Rebecca Bachner is part of a group of about 15 to 20 neighborhood women who would meet monthly to play games, talk and drink wine.

Traub said the Bachners have lived in the subdivision, Meadowbrook at Lake in the Hills, since 2002.

Neighbors said the couple did not have children. Rebecca has a career in the medical industry and works from home; Edward is a consultant. They, along with four other couples, are part of a monthly dinner group with neighbors.

Traub, like many neighbors, was stunned to learn federal agents were searching the Bachners' home.

"It's got to be a mistake. This doesn't add up at all," Traub said. "If those are the people you don't know, then oh, my God, you don't know anybody."

Carolyn Omiatek, who is part of the women's group, also was floored by the search.

"If that is going on there, then you don't really know anyone," she said. "They're a really nice couple."