California PR consultant indicted on firearms charges

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 13, 2014 7:25 PM

By Dan Whitcomb

Los ANGELES (Reuters) - A social media consultant who was arrested after FBI agents found bomb-making materials and lethal toxins during a raid of his San Francisco apartment has been indicted on federal charges, prosecutors said on Friday.

A federal grand jury indicted Ryan Chamberlain, 42, on two firearms counts, the U.S. Attorney's Office for San Francisco said in a statement. He faces a maximum of 15 years in prison if convicted.

The charges stem from allegations that Chamberlain possessed an unregistered destructive device and a handgun with an obliterated serial number.

According to an affidavit filed in the case last week, the FBI began investigating Chamberlain after suspecting he had purchased a precursor to abrin - a biological toxin - and pure nicotine through an online marketplace called Black Market Reloaded.

The FBI also alleged in the affidavit that Chamberlain had attempted to purchase ricin before balking at its steep price.

In May, agents questioned a Black Market vendor of toxins, improvised explosives and guns from Sacramento who told agents that he had done business with Chamberlain, according to the document.

It said the seller told agents Chamberlain asked for samples of pure abrin to help ease the suffering of cancer patients.

In January, agents interviewed a separate Florida-based seller who had been arrested for producing and selling ricin and abrin over the Internet. The seller said he had sent 200 milligrams of pure nicotine to Chamberlain, according to the affidavit.

Pure nicotine - as opposed to the kind in cigarettes - is also a potentially lethal poison when exposed to the skin, ingested or inhaled in sufficient quantities, the document said.

Chamberlain became the subject of a nationwide manhunt after the FBI raided his apartment earlier this month. He was ultimately taken into custody near San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Will Dunham)