Federal prosecutors have now submitted their indictment against Jeremy Ryan, a 30-year-old Wisconsin man known for his Segway-riding protest demonstrations and subsequent run in three state elections.
Ryan was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in late-October with claims of trying to use the dark web to obtain radioactive material.
Now, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Wisconsin has submitted federal charges against Ryan with allegedly attempting to buy the material on an unnamed darknet market to poison someone else.
However, his defense lawyer has since told the court during a recent hearing that Ryan tried to acquire the radioactive material to take his own life since he was suffering from cancer.
Ryan is facing a maximum sentence of life in prison, according to a statement from the Department of Justice.
Allegations and Recent Hearing
Ryan is known for his leadership and Segway-riding demonstrations in the 2011 protests against the proposed Budget Repair Bill by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
These protests gained him the nickname Segway Jeremy. He later entered into politics, running for Wisconsin State Assembly in 2012.
Two years later, he ran as a Republican contender against Paul Ryan in the 2014 Congressional District House of Representatives, then again in the recent 2018 midterm election for same seat.
According to U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Crocker, the suspect is not immune from justice as he committed a federal offense by ordering a dangerous radioactive substance from the dark web.
It prompted the judge to order him to remain in custody until the formal indictment was submitted.
Judge Crocker went ahead to expound on the matter that it does not matter whether the material was to be used to cause harm to other people or for personal use, but on the report that the suspect tried to obtain the radioactive material with the intention to cause death, that was enough reason to charge him.
According to the suspect’s defense lawyer, Joseph Bugni, the criminal complaint [PDF] that was filed by prosecutors does not state precisely what the radioactive material was to be used for.
Bugni claims it clearly shows that the government had failed to give the probable cause, and prosecutors must provide a clear distinction on the materials that are lawful to possess and those that are not.
During the hearing, the court was told by Bugni that the buyer, if it was Ryan, could have discussed with an undercover agent on one material around March.
However, he ordered a different supply in October of this year.
Background: Ryan’s Arrest
Ryan was arrested in late-October after he went to a United Parcel Service (UPS) store in Madison to collect the delivery, which contained the lethal polonium-210 substance, however, the order was replaced with an inert substitute disguising as the original order.
According to the prosecutors, the order was placed with the undercover agent on October 8.
Once suspect ordered the package from the agent in the darknet market (which has been left unnamed in the indictment), he went ahead to request how long the shipping process would take.
However, the undercover agent asked Ryan some details regarding the victim targeted, including the target’s weight and height or whether the intended victim was a male or female.
Instead, Ryan replied by requesting the sign and symptoms a person that is exposed to the radioactive material would show.
He also asked whether there was any known test which would be administered on the victim to detect the exposure to polonium-210.
After a long chat with the vendor, Ryan gave the details of the target as a six-foot tall man weighing around 220 pounds.
In defense, the suspect’s lawyer told the court that Ryan is of the same description, height and weight, given during the conversation.
The court was also told of the event that took place on October 10 when the undercover agent spoke to Ryan.
The agent asked Ryan if he wanted the case to seem as if the victim had succumbed to the cancer disease or due to the cancer treatment.
Ryan just noted that he wanted the case to look like his target had died from either cancer or the treatment and if possible, the original cause should not be detected from the body of the victim.
The defense lawyer, Bugni, was for the point that during the time when the suspect and undercover agent were discussing the delivery of the polonium-210, his client was undergoing treatment for cancer and ultimately wanted to end his suffering by killing himself with the radioactive substance.
It would be perceived as if the government had killed him with the treatment administered previously.
The lawyer continued to say that, by October, Ryan had temporarily recovered from the illness and he bought the radioactive material as a backup in case his condition returned.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Anderson, Ryan did not provide truthful information regarding his cancer treatment to the federal probation agent who was to perform an assessment on his health condition.
The agent’s report was to aid Judge Crocker to understand and give a ruling whether the suspect should be released and await the case to be completed.
Anderson also claimed there is too much about the suspect that is not coming out clear as there is no evidence on the purpose to purchase the radioactive material.
The defense lawyer argued that his client does not pose any threat to the community and was very candid with FBI investigators during the interview after he was arrested.
At the end of the hearing, Judge Crocker agreed with the assistant attorney that there was too much regarding the suspect that was not clear.
He continued to say that it was supported by the fact that the suspect was able to navigate through the dark web and make a purchase of the killer polonium-210.
In the meantime, Ryan will remain in custody in Black Earth, Wisconsin as investigators continue with the case until the next hearing.
Ryan’s arraignment is scheduled for November 15 at 11:30 a.m.
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