Ill. man gets 7-plus years for deadly fish toxin

September 24, 2012 - 6:34 PM

ROCKFORD, Ill. (AP) — A suburban Chicago man was sentenced Monday to more than 7½ years in prison for obtaining a deadly puffer-fish toxin to deploy as a weapon, which federal authorities once accused him of wanting to use to kill his wife.

Edward F. Bachner IV pleaded guilty last year to knowingly possessing the toxin for use as a weapon, wire fraud and filing a false tax claim. U.S. District Judge Frederick Kapala sentenced him Monday to 92 months in prison.

FBI agents arrested the 39-year-old Lake in the Hills man in June 2008 after picking up a package containing the toxins, which are derived from the puffer fish and can be deadly if ingested. As little as four milligrams can kill a human and Bachner had ordered 98 milligrams, prosecutors said. Agents who searched Bachner's home also found syringes, needles and a book on how to poison people, prosecutors said.

Authorities claimed he planned to kill his wife and collect on a $20 million insurance policy, but those allegations were not part of his guilty plea.

Bachner's defense attorneys have denied a murder plot ever existed, and his wife and family have stood by him.

His attorneys argued that Bachner's behavior was a byproduct of pressures throughout his life that led to role-playing and escapism in which he believed he was a successful businessman, research doctor and special military agent.

Defense attorney Jeff Steinback stressed that no one was injured and Bachner did not attempt to administer the toxin to his wife.

The judge said acquiring the toxin was not equivalent to attempted murder and that he has "rarely seen such support" for a criminal defendant.

Bachner apologized in an emotional statement to Kapala, saying he fought his "dragon" and looks forward to being reunited with his wife.

Bachner will get credit for time served and could be out in less than three years.