- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 29, 2004

A Hyattsville man is facing life in prison on charges he produced biological weapons that were found in his home while authorities were investigating a complaint that the man was blackmailing a business competitor.

U.S. Attorney Thomas M. DiBiagio announced yesterday that a federal grand jury indicted Myron Tereshchuk, 42, on six counts relating to possession of at least eight hand grenades, ricin and an insecticide called nicotine sulfate.

Ricin, a toxin made from castor beans that can be fatal if inhaled, ingested or injected, and nicotine sulfate, an ingredient in some pesticides, can be considered biological weapons under federal law.

Authorities said Tereshchuk, who has already pleaded guilty to extortion charges, also had explosive powder, firecrackers and chemicals in his home.

“This is a fairly unusual case,” said Marcy Murphy, a spokeswoman for Mr. DiBiagio.

Miss Murphy said she could offer no information about whether Tereshchuk produced the weapons-grade toxins himself, how much he possessed, or whether there was any indication he planned to use them.

According to court documents filed in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Virginia, the FBI search that turned up the weapons came in March, after Tereshchuk was arrested for attempting to extort $17 million from the Connecticut-based firm MicroPatent. MicroPatent, which has offices in Alexandria, produces and distributes patent and trademark information.

Tereshchuk owned a small intellectual-property firm called Potomac Filewrapper Service and claimed that corruption at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office was giving MicroPatent unfair business advantages.

In February 2004, Tereshchuk began demanding in e-mails to MicroPatent’s president that the company pay $17 million or he would disclose proprietary MicroPatent information and launch denial-of-service attacks against intellectual-property lawyers’ computers.

He was arrested in his car on March 10 after he gave his own name to MicroPatent’s president in an e-mail informing to whom the $17 million in checks should be delivered.

Tereshchuk pleaded guilty in June to the charges in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia and faces a possible maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced on Oct. 22.

He faces a maximum life sentence for possessing a weaponized toxin and between five and 10 years in prison and $250,000 fine per count on the other charges.

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