Archive for Saturday, May 17, 2003

Federal chemical weapons charges filed against Independence, Mo., chemist

May 17, 2003

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— An Independence, Mo., man has been charged in federal court with possessing a chemical weapon, but prosecutors on Friday would not say what they think he planned to do with the potassium cyanide he is accused of keeping.

Hessam S. "Sam" Ghane, 53, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Iran, was indicted Thursday, U.S. Atty. Todd Graves said. The indictment was unsealed on Friday, when Ghane was arrested and made his first appearance in U.S. District Court.

Graves said prosecutors did not believe that Ghane was involved in a conspiracy. Graves said he could not say what Ghane's intention was, but added that prosecutors had not accused Ghane with any specific plan to use the chemical.

The indictment accuses Ghane of possessing 177 grams of the deadly chemical. Graves said he believed hundreds of people could have been harmed if the cyanide were "structured properly."

Ghane is a chemist who was employed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers until 1993. He also taught chemistry at Maple Woods Community College in Kansas City, Mo., in 1996 and 1997.

Graves would not say how Ghane allegedly obtained the cyanide, but said that as a chemist, Ghane would have access to the chemical.

Authorities would not say where the cyanide was found. But Independence Police Capt. Greg Wilkinson said officers discovered the cyanide on Feb. 4 after they went to Ghane's residence for a welfare check.

Wilkinson did not say who requested the welfare check.

Ghane is the first person charged in the Western District of Missouri under the 5-year-old federal chemical weapons law, Graves said.

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