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Wife Targeted for Deadly Puffer-Fish Poison

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CHICAGO (AP) __ A 38-year-old suburban Chicago man pleaded guilty on Tuesday to obtaining a deadly puffer-fish poison to deploy as a weapon, which federal authorities had once accused him of wanting to use to kill his wife.

Edward F. Bachner IV pleaded guilty in a Rockford federal court to knowingly possessing the toxin for use as a weapon, wire fraud and filing a false tax claim. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, though he’s likely to receive a lesser term as a result of his plea deal.

After his 2008 arrest, prosecutors alleged that the Lake in the Hills man sought to kill his wife using the toxin, then collect on a $20 million insurance policy. Those allegations are not a part of the charges he pleaded guilty to on Tuesday.

Defense attorney Terence Gillespie declined to comment beyond the plea agreement. Previously, however, Backner’s defense has denied that any such murder plot ever existed.

Bachner was arrested three years ago after he picked up a package containing the toxins, which are found naturally in puffer fish and can be deadly when ingested. As little as four milligrams can kill a human and Bachner had ordered 98 milligrams, court documents allege.

Later, agents also found syringes, needles and a book on how to poison people when they searched his home in Lake in the Hills, prosecutors have said. At the time, a defense attorney said the book was a reference work for would-be crime novelists. Bachner originally was charged with lying to get the toxin by claiming it was for scientific research.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.

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