Michigan Man, 76, Gets 75 Months in $5 Million Scheme That Involved Placing Shrapnel-filled Pipe Bombs Outside Cellphone Stores

By Allan Lengel

A Michigan man was sentenced Wednesday to 6 years and 3 months in prison for a $5 million extortion plot that involved placing shrapnel-filled pipe bombs outside cellphone stores in northern Michigan.

John Douglas Allen, 76, was sentenced in Bay City, Mich., after he had pleaded guilty to extortion by wrongful use of force, violence, and fear, as well as two counts of attempted destruction of a building using an explosive device.

Court records show Allen admitted that on Sept. 15, 2021, at around 7:36 p.m., he placed a U.S. Postal Service box with black tape and exposed wires outside an AT&T Store in Sault Ste. Marie, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Later that evening, he put another USPS box with black tape and a wire outside of a Verizon Store in Cheboygan, in northern Michigan.

The man then placed notes demanding $5 million on cell phone towers in the area. He also mailed them to the telecommunications companies, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a press release.

The defendant claimed that he was motivated by what he viewed as immoral content being spread
on the internet and cellphones, authorities said.

“This defendant sought to use terror, threats, and bombs to scare ordinary people going about
their business,” said U.S. Attorney Dawn Ison in a statement. “We will not tolerate individuals who use fear to try to line their own pockets.”

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