Akron Man Convicted of Possessing Ricin for Use as a Weapon
Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Cleveland Division, announced today that Jeff Boyd Levenderis, age 58, of Akron, Ohio, was convicted after a four-day jury trial in United States District Court in Cleveland, Ohio, of possessing the biological toxin ricin for use as a weapon. Levenderis was also convicted of one count of possessing ricin and two counts of making false statements to agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The evidence and testimony introduced at trial showed that Levenderis produced ricin, a deadly biological toxin, at his home in Akron, Ohio, sometime after 2000 and kept it in his freezer until it was recovered by FBI agents in January 2011. The evidence showed that Levenderis intended to make a “weaponized” form of ricin. The evidence also showed that Levenderis planned to use the ricin against his stepfather and against first responders who might respond to a fire Levenderis planned to set at his house as part of an elaborate suicide plan. Testimony at trial confirmed that the substance Levenderis manufactured contained active ricin and that it contained hundreds of lethal doses if inhaled or injected. Based on all of the evidence presented at trial, the jury found that Levenderis possessed the ricin for use as a weapon.
Additionally, the jury convicted Levenderis of possessing ricin of an unauthorized type or quantity without justification and with lying to FBI agents on two occasions when Levenderis denied making ricin, claiming it was only ant poison.
United States Attorney Dettelbach commented, “The jury’s verdict confirms the danger posed by Jeff Levenderis in our community. Levenderis produced a dangerous biological weapon that could have been used in multiple ways to harm or kill innocent people. Ricin is a significant threat and the evidence showed the defendant meant to use it. As a result of this conviction, our community is safer.”
“Levenderis brought extreme danger to our community by producing and weaponizing this deadly substance. The jury did an outstanding job handing down these much deserved guilty verdicts,” said Anthony.
Levenderis will be sentenced on a date yet to be scheduled.
The was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew W. Shepherd and Om Kakani and Erin Creegan, Trial Attorney with the National Security Division of the United States Department of Justice. The conviction resulted from an investigation conducted by the FBI.