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updated: 7/26/2011 4:39 PM

Plea deal may be near in Lake in the Hills puffer fish case

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  • Edward F. Bachner IV

    Edward F. Bachner IV


A 38-year-old Lake in the Hills man may be close to pleading guilty to charges he tried to amass lethal puffer fish toxin so he could poison his wife and collect millions in insurance proceeds, according to his lawyer.

Edward Bachner, of the 5700 block of McKenzie Drive, has been held in lieu of bail by federal authorities since his June 2008 arrest during a raid of his home by the FBI anti-terrorism task force.

Defense attorney Michael Gillespie on Tuesday told U.S. District Court Judge Frederick Kapala that attorneys from both sides were "diligently" working on a plea agreement.

Gillespie said Bachner still needs to iron out some conditions of the deal, and another hearing was set for Aug. 2.

"This case has been dragging on for a long time," Kapala said.

Bachner faces federal charges alleging he posed as a research doctor in order to obtain the poison tetrodotoxin, also known as TTX.

Federal authorities say Bachner acquired TTX intending to kill his wife, Rebecca, and collect more than $20 million in life insurance payouts. He previously pleaded not guilty to the charges, which carry a maximum term of life in prison.

Assistant U. S. Attorney Mark Karner has declined to comment on the case; outside of court, Gillespie declined to comment as well.

The case garnered immediate attention in summer 2008 when FBI agents and other federal and county authorities searched Bachner's home in the Meadowbrook subdivision of Lake in the Hills.

Neighbors said the couple had lived there since 2002.

Bachner was arrested June 30, 2008, after he arrived at a UPS store in Algonquin to pick up vials of tetrodotoxin, which authorities say he ordered from the East Coast.

He was accused of using the alias of Edmond Backer for the phony business of EB Strategic Research in an attempt to buy tetrodotoxin, which is contained in the liver, ovaries and intestines of puffer fish and is 1,000 times more deadly than cyanide.

The search of his home uncovered 45 full or partially full vials of the poison, along with evidence he had obtained at least 19 more vials that were missing.

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, federal prosecutors have said.

The case was set for trial last fall but delayed after Bachner fired his previous defense lawyer.