A Florida man who planned to bomb 10 Target stores along the East Coast has been criminally charged with possession of a destructive device by the U.S. Justice Department.Mark Charles Barnett, 48, allegedly “theorized” that the planned explosions would cause Target’s stock to drop, allowing him to scoop up shares of the retailer on the cheap before they eventually rebounded.Barnett is a registered sex offender who is currently on monitored probation for “numerous felony offenses,” according to the criminal complaint against him, including kidnapping, sexual battery with a weapon or force and grand theft.A confidential source identified by the DOJ as “CS” claims he was offered $10,000 by Barnett to place at least 10 “improvised explosive bombs” he had made in Target stores in New York, Florida and Virginia.The explosive devices were disguised in food packages, including stuffing mix, breakfast bars and pasta, and Barnett purportedly delivered them to CS on Feb. 9, asking that they be placed on store shelves. He warned CS to not bounce the packages around too much or they would explode, according to the complaint.“An explosives expert determined that they were capable of causing property damage, serious injury, or death to nearby persons upon detonation,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida said in a late Thursday statement. “A subsequent search of Barnett’s house by federal agents revealed components consistent with those used to create the explosive devices.”The Justice Department also said Barnett provided CS with a bag of gloves, a mask and a license plate cover in order to help him hide his identity from law enforcement after the devices were placed.Instead, CS on Monday informed his probation officer of Barnett’s request and then handed over the devices to authorities and continued to cooperate in the investigation, including recording a discussion on Tuesday with Barnett about placement of the explosives.CS is currently on probation for burglary of an occupied dwelling, but he has not been promised anything in return for his cooperation in the investigation of Barnett, according to the complaint.Daryl McCrary, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Florida, said Barnett’s plot “could have caused great harm to the public.”Barnett is being charged with possession of a firearm (destructive device) affecting commerce and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. He’s currently being held in Marion County Jail.Target spokeswoman Erika Winkels said the company “commends the law enforcement agencies responsible for apprehending this individual” but declined to comment further, citing an active investigation.
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