Florida man charged with plotting to bomb Target stores

(Reuters) – A Florida man has been charged with plotting to plant bombs in at least 10 Target Corp stores and then profit when the blasts caused the company’s stock price to fall, federal prosecutors have said.

Charles Barnett, 48, of Ocala, had asked a law enforcement informant to put the homemade bombs on the shelves of Target stores from Florida to New York state, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida said in a statement on Thursday.

“Barnett theorized that the company‚Äôs stock value would plunge after the explosions, allowing him to cheaply acquire shares of Target stock before an eventual rebound in prices,” the statement said.

A criminal complaint said the bombs were disguised in packages for pasta, stuffing mix and breakfast bars and delivered to the informant on Feb. 9. Barnett also gave the informant gloves, a mask and a license plate cover to conceal his identity from police.

The informant, a convicted burglar on probation, turned the bombs in to authorities on Monday, the complaint said. A search of Barnett’s house by federal agents turned up bomb parts.

The complaint said that Barnett was a registered sex offender and was on probation for felonies that included kidnapping, sexual battery and grand theft. He wears a Global Positioning System monitor as part of his probation.

Barnett is charged with possession of a firearm, or destructive device, affecting commerce by a felon. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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