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Published On: Fri, Oct 19th, 2018

Florida man, Mark Barnett gets 40 years in prison over plot to bomb Target stores and buy stock cheaper

U.S. District Judge Roy B. Dalton today sentenced Mark Charles Barnett (50, Ocala) to 40 years in federal prison for attempted arson, possession of an unregistered National Firearms Act (NFA) destructive device, and making an unregistered NFA destructive device. A federal jury found Barnett guilty on July 27, 2018.

According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, Barnett offered a confidential source (CS) $10,000 to place improvised explosive bombs inside Target stores along the east coast of the United States. Barnett purchased the bomb components and assembled at least 10 of the destructive devices, which he disguised inside the packaging of common grocery items. Barnett had theorized that the company’s stock would plunge after the explosions, allowing him to cheaply acquire shares of Target stock before an eventual rebound in prices. Barnett told the CS, “If someone has to die so that I can make some money, so be it.”

Barnett delivered the devices to the CS with instructions to put them on the shelves of Target stores from New York to Florida. The CS, however, promptly surrendered the destructive devices to authorities, and Barnett was arrested on February 14, 2017.

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Federal explosives experts subsequently determined that the resulting fire and explosion from each of the devices would have been capable of causing property damage, serious injury, and death. Searches of Barnett’s house, cellphone, and computer revealed pictures of the grocery items that he had turned into bombs, as well as leftover bomb components and articles describing stock options.

Barnett, a registered sex offender, had been conditionally released from state prison in 2013, following multiple felony convictions for sexual assault, kidnapping, and grand theft. He was also previously convicted of kidnapping in Mississippi.

“As subject matter experts in explosives, this case represents ATF’s urgency in responding to information that someone would be planning a crime that had the potential to harm numerous people in a retail setting. ATF’s proactive response negated this immediate threat,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge, Daryl McCrary. “This collaborative effort between the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives highlights the importance of immediate communication sharing between law enforcement agencies to ensure public safety.”

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Department of Corrections – Probation and Parole, and the Ocala Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert E. Bodnar, Jr.

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