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posted: 4/16/2010 12:01 AM

Court upholds charges against puffer fish toxin suspect

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  • Edward J. Bachner

    Edward J. Bachner


A federal judge this week denied defense requests he throw out large portions of the indictment against a Lake in the Hills man accused of obtaining the deadly puffer fish poison in a scheme to kill his wife and collect more than $20 million in insurance proceeds.

In a six-page ruling issued Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Frederick J. Kapala rejected defense arguments that he should dismiss a wire fraud charge in the 16-count indictment since suspect Edward J. Bachner never collected any insurance money.

Citing case law, Kapala said the fact an alleged scheme did not succeed does not preclude charges against the person accused of being behind it.

"Attempts are punished, even when chance of success is dim - even when the facts are such that, unbeknownst to the defendant, the attempt could not possibly succeed," the judge wrote.

Kapala also rejected arguments he should throw out 13 other counts of the indictment alleging Bachner, 36, obtained the puffer fish poison, known as Tetrodotoxin, for use of a weapon. The defense contended those charges were invalid because Bachner so mishandled the poison that it would have been harmless.

The FBI arrested Bachner June 30, 2008 after he arrived at a UPS Store to pick up vials of Tetrodotoxin he had ordered while posing as a doctor doing medical research.

Federal authorities said a search of his home in the 5700 block of McKenzie Drive later uncovered 45 full or partially full vials of the poison along with evidence he had obtained at least 19 more vials that were missing. FBI agents also found a handgun, more than 50 knives, five garrotes, a phony CIA badge, a precursor to the poison Ricin and books on how to poison people, make gun silencers and hand-to-hand combat.

Bachner also faces charges he tried to hire someone to kill his wife in 2005. He has denied all the charges, which could land him a maximum sentence of life in prison if he is convicted.

He has been held in federal custody without bond since his arrest. Family members, including his wife, have continued to support him.