Tallmadge man convicted of creating ricin toxin

Associated Press Published:

Cleveland -- A man arrested at a residence in Tallmadge for possessing ricin has been convicted of having the biological toxin for use as a weapon.

Federal prosecutors in Cleveland say a jury also convicted Jeff Boyd Levenderis, 58, of providing ricin and making false statements to FBI agents when he denied making the deadly toxin.

Prosecutors say evidence showed Levenderis planned to use ricin against his stepfather. They say he also planned to set a house fire in an elaborate suicide plan and intended to use ricin against emergency responders.

Levenderis was arrested at the Essex Healthcare of Tallmadge nursing home Jan. 28, 2011, where he was residing at the time, for possession of the biological substance that is isolated from castor beans.

Former Police Officer Robert Coffman was in the process of buying Levenderis' foreclosed home on South Main Street in Akron and had been assisting Levenderis with cleaning out the house during the fall of 2010.

During a discussion about the home's cleanup with Levenderis in December, according to the affidavit, Levenderis said to Coffman, "I hope no one took the coffee can that was in the freezer."

When Coffman asked why, Levenderis reportedly responded by saying "if anyone opened it, it could be dangerous."

The substance was seized from the house by special agents and tested positive for ricin Jan. 26, 2011.

Coffman the substance was "weaponized" because "the ricin had been ground down to a fine powder for airborne delivery (i.e. 'aerosolized') and based on its purity."

Levenderis was being kept under suicide watch while held in jail. A call to his attorney wasn't immediately returned June 5.

Levenderis will be sentenced later.

Editor's note: Reporter Jeremy Nobile contributed to this story.

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