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Two men convicted in biological weapons case
October 30, 1998
Web posted at: 3:10 a.m. EST (0810 GMT)
BROWNSVILLE, Texas (AP) -- Two men accused of scheming to
attack President Clinton and others with cigarette lighters
equipped with poison-coated cactus needles were convicted
of sending threatening e-mail.
Johnie Wise, 72, and Jack Abbott Grebe, 43, were convicted
Thursday of two counts of sending threatening e-mails -- one
message to the Internal Revenue Service and one to the Drug
Grebe and Wise were acquitted on one count each of conspiracy
to use weapons of mass destruction count and five counts each
of sending threatening messages -- to President Clinton, U.S.
Customs, the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms,
and the Secret Service.
They could get life in prison at their Jan. 29 sentencing.
Prosecutors said Wise schemed to modify a cigarette lighter
so it would shoot cactus needles coated with toxins such as
rabies, botulism, anthrax or HIV.
Defense attorneys called idea 'silly'
Among the men's alleged targets: Clinton, the U.S. and Texas
attorneys general, and FBI Director Louis Freeh.
Defense attorneys called the idea "silly" and "cockamamie."
There was never any evidence that the accused possessed
biological weapons or tried to develop a deadly lighter. The
e-mailed threats were vaguely worded and did not discuss the
lighter or cactus thorns.
Under federal law, however, the threats were enough for a
conviction and no biological weapons were needed, prosecutors
The men would have carried out their plan to hurt government
employees and their families if they hadn't been arrested,
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mervyn Mosbacker said.
Wise and Grebe were accused of concocting the plan to threaten
government officials with e-mails. One e-mail, sent June 12,
was titled "Declaration of War" and a second one, sent June 26,
said government workers had been "targeted for destruction by
A third defendant, Oliver Dean Emigh, 63, was acquitted on all
counts. He was accused of writing the June 12 message, but the
charges against the men stemmed from the June 26 e-mail.
Thanks to D.