MADISON, Wis. — A prominent Wisconsin protester who twice unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for House Speaker Paul Ryan’s seat has been charged with trying to buy a lethal dose of a radioactive substance online.
A court affidavit says an undercover FBI agent posing as a merchant on the dark web was first contacted about the possible purchase of an unnamed radioactive substance in March by someone with the username “tigolebitties.” The dark web consists of hidden websites that can’t be accessed without special software.
The FBI alleges “tigolebitties” was Jeremy Ryan, 30, of the Town of Madison. Ryan said he wanted to order something that would kill fairly quickly after ingestion and was rare enough that if the cause of death was revealed, people would assume only someone in government would have access to the poison, according to the affidavit.
The FBI says Ryan indicated his target was a 6-foot-2 male weighing 220 pounds. An individual was not named.
Months went by before Ryan inquired again about the purchase, then paid for the substance with about $500 in bitcoin and asked that it be shipped to him through a Madison UPS Store mailbox, officials said.
Ryan showed up and retrieved the package on Wednesday, the FBI said. The package contained an inert substitute for the radioactive material, the U.S. Attorney’s office for western Wisconsin said. He was arrested later in nearby Black Earth.
FBI spokesman Leonard Peace said the case is not related to recent package bombs targeting critics of President Donald Trump. A message left for the assistant U.S. attorney prosecuting Ryan was not immediately returned Thursday.
Ryan appeared in federal court Thursday and was ordered held until a detention and probable cause hearing Monday. His federal public defender did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.
Ryan challenged Paul Ryan in the 2014 GOP primary and also unsuccessfully sought the nomination this year. Paul Ryan isn’t seeking re-election.
Jeremy Ryan became known as “Segway Jeremy” because he often was seen navigating the state Capitol on a Segway scooter during the 2011 protests against Gov. Scott Walker’s legislation curtailing collective bargaining rights for public workers.
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