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Arizona man indicted and arrested over chemical weapons attack

By Lynn Herrmann     May 15, 2011 in Crime
Tucson - An Arizona power-washing contractor was arrested in Tucson on Friday on a two-count federal indictment for allegedly producing and using chemical weapons which were placed in the front and back of a Tucson couple’s home, where he then ignited them.
A federal grand jury has indicted Todd Russell Fries, also known as Todd Burns, of Tucson, for prohibition against chemical weapons, according to the unsealed indictment (pdf). Agents with the FBI arrested Fries at his home early Friday morning and is currently being detained pending an appearance before a federal judge
The indictment reveals after placing the devices at the front of the garage and on the back porch of the couple’s home, a chlorine cloud “not intended for peaceful purposes” was created.
Federal prosecutors allege Fries as the perpetrator of a large chlorine gas cloud the size of a football field which force the evacuation of homes in a Tucson gated community on August 2, 2009.
“This defendant developed and executed a chlorine gas attack that impacted an entire neighborhood and had the potential to cause tremendous harm and fear,” said US Attorney Dennis K. Burke in an FBI statement. “I commend our partners at the FBI for their diligence on this case, and we expect justice to be served.”
Previously charged with four misdemeanors dating back to 1996, including two shoplifting charges, assault and disorderly conduct, all dismissed, Fries started his power washing business in 1999, his website states.
The couple, Myles and Karen Levin, had no disputes with anyone other than a contractor, the Arizona Daily Star (ADS) reports. Although the contractor was not identified, Mr. Levin acknowledged he had been a customer of Burns Power Washing.
“It feels really good that there's been an arrest made. We've been living pretty much under wraps,” Levin said, according to ADS. In the incident, dead animals were also left outside the Levins’ home.
In an earlier incident on October 31,2008, anti-semitic graffiti had been painted on their previous Tucson neighborhood home and and dead animals also left in their yard. Although the Levins told authorities they suspected Fries in that incident, he has not been accused of the prior attack.
Fries faces a penalty of up to $250,000 in fines, a prison term, or both, if convicted.
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