Man in toxin case pleads not guilty

June 18, 2009 1:44:39 PM PDT
A suburban Chicago man accused of planning to use deadly puffer fish toxin to kill his wife and collect $20 million in life insurance pleaded not guilty on Thursday morning. Edward F. Bachner IV of Lake in the Hills entered his not guilty plea before Judge P. Michael Mahoney.

The 35-year-old Bachner was indicted a year ago for posing as a doctor to buy the deadly toxin. The new indictment says he planned to use it to kill his wife.

He is also charged with lying to the IRS in an effort to collect more than $538,000 in income tax refunds the government didn't owe him.

Bachner was named by in a superseding indictment that lays out new evidence he engaged in a scheme to obtain Tetrodotoxin (TTX) for the purpose of kill his wife and collecting the sizable insurance proceeds. Initially, authorities suspected that Bachner had taken out a $5 million policy. Investigators say they have since found a paper trail linking the financial consultant to a premium payment on the much larger policy. The premium of almost $40,000 was made to a California company shortly before the murder-for-hire was to be executed, say authorities. (Download the Indictment)

The investigation into the contract murder began in July 2005. At that time, a Tennessee resident provided information to the FBI claiming a man he had contact with online was offering $8,000 for help in a murder.

The man, who identified himself as "Mark" from Algonquin, Ill., allegedly told the Tennessee resident he would provide an untraceable machine gun that he was to use to kill a 32-year-old woman. Investigators said they traced the messages to Bachner and interviewed him at his home in January 2006.

Bachner, according to court documents, initially denied any knowledge of the murder-for-hire plot. But when pressed he told agents "I was bored. I had no intent."

Bachner wasn't charged and arrested until on June 30, 2008, on federal charges that he possessed TTX. Authorities said they found six empty vials of the substance along with needles, syringes and a book that deals with the effective doses for poisoning people.

He was then indicted last summer on five counts of possessing a biological agent for use as a weapon and five counts of possessing a biological agent without any justifiable research or other peaceful purpose. According to federal prosecutors, "he has pleaded not guilty to those charges and remains in federal custody while the case is pending in Federal Court in Rockford. Today's superseding indictment contains those same charges and adds six new counts: one count of wire fraud alleging that Bachner engaged in a scheme to obtain TTX to kill his wife to collect $20 million in life insurance proceeds; one count of soliciting another in 2005 to commit a federal felony involving the use of force; one count of using an interstate facility for murder for hire in 2005; and three counts of filing false claims for federal income tax refunds."

Federal authorities said Bachner was a financial consultant by trade who formerly worked for his father's Naperville-based wireless communications firm. He allegedly posed as a doctor named Edmund Backer and ordered 98 milligrams of the substance also known as TTX at a cost of $7,056.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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