FBI raids led to restitution check, conviction in Texas

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Materials to make bombs, gas were confiscated
By Alan Campbell of the Enterprise staff

If not for a check written to the Sheriff’s Office by a U.S. District Court in Houston, the outcome of FBI raids conducted 16 months ago may have remained a source of speculation in Leelanau County.

The Leelanau County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday officially accepted a $1,315.43 check for restitution to cover Sheriff’s Office expenses associated with the operation, which included 60 FBI agents who converged in Leelanau County.

The check was part of $159,087 in restitution paid by Andrew Cecil Earhart Schneck, who pleaded guilty on Aug. 15, 2014, in a Houston federal court to a misdemeanor charge of “not conforming to storage of explosive material.”

Schneck, a member of a Houston-area family that owns four homes in Leelanau County, was sentenced to five years of probation. He was not given a jail sentence.

News reports at the time of the raids stated that Schneck was the son of Cecily E. Horton and her husband, Andrew Schneck, who also own homes in the Houston area that were raided by the FBI.

The background behind raids conducted on Oct. 4, 2013, in two states and the evacuation of several blocks of Suttons Bay Village may never be known as a federal judge has sealed documents that would explain the operations.

Some things are known about the operation. Several blocks of Suttons Bay Village were shut down and the route of the school Homecoming parade was altered while FBI agents dressed in Hazmat suits removed chemicals and explosive devices from a home at 504 N. St. Marys St. Two bombs were later detonated on remote property in Leland Township owned by the county Road Commission.

Leelanau County Sheriff Borkovich said last week that the “individual involved” could have been charged in state courts. “The problem was the indictments would have to be unsealed.”

The restitution funds were sought to cover “our expenses that day over and above our regular patrol costs,” he added.

Borkovich said he had been asked by federal authorities not to divulge information about the case.

Following the raids, Borkovich confi rmed that chemicals were confiscated from the Suttons Bay home that could be used in the production of poisonous gas. The Houston Chronicle quoted FBI agents who confirmed that agents involved in the Texas raids were searching for dangerous chemicals.

The link among the raids is the properties’ owner, Cecily Earhart Horton, a Houston-area resident whose family has summered for generations in Leelanau County. The Chronicle, relying on a law enforcement source who spoke off the record, said that neither Horton nor her husband, art consultant Andrew Schneck, were targets in the investigations.

The two properties searched in Leelanau County are titled in the name of the Horton Cecily Earhart Trust. The trust’s Leland Township property, which overlooks a bluff on Lake Michigan, was part of a $480,000 property transfer in 1997. The Suttons Bay Village property was purchased for $159,000 in 2003.

Special Agent Ron Loch led the operation. At a hastily called press conference that Friday evening, he said he was not authorized to elaborate on the content of sealed search warrants.

Those documents remain under seal, even after Schneck pleaded guilty and the case has been closed.

2015-02-19 / Front Page

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