Grand Rapids man flagged by FBI changes plea

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Grand Rapids man who was flagged by the FBI after allegedly building bombs has pleaded guilty to making a false statement.

Federal court records show 24-year-old Aaron Fein changed his plea from not guilty to guilty Friday. In return, the federal court agreed to dismiss a second count of lying at Fein’s sentencing.

Fein, 24, first showed up on the radar of federal authorities when he was stopped at the U.S-Canada border with a notebook containing a handwritten checklist of ingredients to build a bomb that could be remotely detonated, a federal criminal complaint shows.

Investigators say Fein told them the notebook contained “things on the internet that interested him.”

The complaint says Fein alerted federal authorities to “partially-constructed electronic triggering devices” in his bedroom he said he built.

Fein, who was trying to reenter the U.S., told investigators he was “going crazy” because a power outage knocked out his internet serve, and he wanted to go to Canada before he died.

When authorities examined Fein’s laptop and desktop computers, they found he’d been searching about mass murders, terrorism and mass shootings, the federal complaint states.

In an Aug. 30 police interview, Fein sympathized with people behind mass casualty incidents.

The false statement charge Fein has pleaded guilty to stemmed from his repeated attempts to buy a gun, which eventually led him to the east side of the state.

The criminal complaint states Fein visited an Ann Arbor gun range where he rented an AR-15 rifle, purchased 100 rounds of ammunition and signed up for a lesson on how to use the weapon.

During the lesson, the FBI contacted the store. Employees lied about problems with range’s ventilation system to halt Fein’s lesson with a promise of continuing it later. The federal court document says Fein then traveled to Cabela’s in Dundee where he asked about ammunition compatible with an AR-15, then drove to Ohio where he spent the night near another gun store.

At that point, federal authorities ordered police to pick up Fein. Michigan State Police stopped him on his way back to Cabela’s. The complaint states during questioning in April, Fein admitted to visiting a gun store on the east side of the state “to ask questions,” but lied to federal agents about handling or firing a weapon.

The second charge of lying to an FBI officer that’s being dismissed stemmed from a May 3 incident in which Fein allegedly lied to the FBI about having guns or components for guns at his home. Authorities say they found two lower-receivers, a pistol grip and a lower-receiver parts kit for an AR-15 at the home.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office says Fein will remain in custody until he’s sentenced by a federal judge in Kalamazoo. He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.