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Associated Press

Florida prosecutors can seek death penalty despite questions

Florida prosecutors can seek the death penalty in ongoing cases despite a state Supreme Court ruling that found a new death penalty law unconstitutional.

The court ruled Monday that the death penalty can be applied as long as there is a unanimous jury recommendation.

The court ruled last October that a new state law requiring at least a 10-2 jury recommendation is unconstitutional.

But Monday it said other aspects of the law are constitutional and prosecutors can proceed in capital punishment cases.

Prosecutors had been in limbo wondering whether the death penalty could be applied. Attorney General Pam Bondi asked the court to clarify.

The court released an opinion last month saying the death penalty couldn’t be applied in pending cases, but then withdrew the opinion hours later.

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Mike Pence tries to reassure anxious Europeans on U.S. support

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence moved Monday to assuage European Union fears about the strength of Washington’s support for the union and its commitment to European security through the NATO military alliance.

During meetings in Brussels, Pence said he was acting on behalf of President Donald Trump “to express the strong commitment of the United States to continued cooperation and partnership with the European Union.”

“Whatever our differences, our two continents share the same heritage, the same values and above all the same purpose: to promote peace and prosperity through freedom, democracy and the rule of law,” he told reporters after talks with EU Council President Donald Tusk.

Trump’s benevolence toward Russian President Vladimir Putin and campaign rhetoric that included branding NATO obsolete and vowing to undo a series of multinational trade deals has sparked anxiety in Europe. Trump was also supportive of Britain’s vote last year to leave the 28-nation EU, a withdrawal known as Brexit. And he has suggested that the EU itself could soon fall apart.

Tusk, who chairs meetings of EU leaders, said he had been reassured after “open and frank talks” with Pence, but made clear that the bloc would watch closely to ensure the U.S. acts on its words of support.

“I heard words which are promising for the future, words which explain a lot about the new approach in Washington,” Tusk said.

He underlined that “too many new and sometimes surprising opinions have been voiced over this time about our relations — and our common security — for us to pretend that everything is as it used to be.”

“We are counting, as always in the past, on the United States’ wholehearted and unequivocal — let me repeat, unequivocal — support for the idea of a united Europe,” Tusk said. “The world would be a decidedly worse place if Europe were not united.”

He asserted: “The idea of NATO is not obsolete, just like the values which lie at its foundation are not obsolete.”

Tusk added, “Both Europeans and Americans must simply practice what they preach.”

After talks with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg across town, Pence reiterated the administration’s strong support for the alliance, but warned that Trump wants to see “real progress” by the end of the year on boosting defense spending.

NATO leaders agreed in 2014 that alliance members needed to start spending at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product by 2024. Only five nations currently do so: the United States, Britain, Poland, Estonia and Greece.

“The truth is many others, including some of our largest allies, still lack a clear and credible path to meet this minimum goal,” Pence said.

Asked what the administration would do if allies failed to meet the defense spending target, Pence said, “I don’t know what the answer is to ‘or else,’ but I know that the patience of the American people will not endure forever.”

Pence’s meetings in Brussels were aimed at assuring European leaders that his words reflected the views of Trump and would not easily be swept away at the whim of the U.S. president or undermined by statements issued on Twitter.

Pence, as he did in an address Saturday at the Munich Security Conference, also said Trump would demand that Russia honor its commitments to end the fighting in Ukraine.

“In the interest of peace and in the interest of innocent human lives, we hope and pray that this cease-fire takes hold,” he said.

The vice president also noted the “heartbreaking” suicide bombings at the Brussels airport and subway system in March 2016, and said the U.S. would continue to collaborate with EU partners to address safety and combat terrorism.

“The United States’ commitment to the European Union is steadfast and enduring,” he said.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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Donald Trump’s Florida visits puts small airport in tailspin

President Donald Trump wants small businesses to thrive, but his frequent Mar-a-Lago visits have flight schools and other companies at a nearby airport in a financial nosedive.

The Secret Service closed Lantana Airport on Friday for the third straight weekend because of the president’s return to his Palm Beach resort, meaning its maintenance companies, a banner-flying business and another two dozen businesses are also shuttered, costing them thousands of dollars at the year’s busiest time. The banner-flying company says it has lost more than $40,000 in contracts already.

The airport, which handles only small, propeller-driven planes and helicopters, is about 6 miles southwest of Mar-a-Lago, well within the 10-mile circle around the resort that’s closed to most private planes when he’s in town. Trump flies into Palm Beach International Airport, which is 2.5 miles from Mar-a-Lago, and remains opens as it handles commercial flights. Small private planes can also use that airport during presidential visits if they meet certain stringent conditions.

The Lantana owners are pushing compromises they say will ensure Trump’s security while keeping their businesses open. They involve letting pilots fly in a closely monitored corridor headed away from the resort until they are outside a 10-mile ban around Mar-a-Lago and a 30-mile zone where flying lessons are restricted. Pilots, planes and cargo would undergo preflight screening by Transportation Security Administration agents.

“None of us are suggesting that we shouldn’t do everything to keep the president safe but we believe there are things that can be done to keep us in operation,” said Jonathan Miller, the contractor who operates the Palm Beach County-owned airport.

The airport and its 28 businesses have an economic impact of about $27 million annually and employ about 200 people full-time, many of them making about $30,000 a year. They don’t get paid when the airport is closed.

Miller is already losing a helicopter company, which is moving rather than deal with the closures. That will cost him $440,000 in annual rent and fuel sales.

White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham directed questions to the Secret Service. The agency also declined comment. Flight restrictions have long been standard around buildings where a president is staying to protect him from an airborne attack.

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, a Democrat who represents the area, met with the business owners this week. She said she will meet with the Secret Service next week to see if a compromise can be reached.

Lantana Airport opened in 1941 as a Civil Air Patrol station, with planes flying along the coast during World War II to spot German submarines attempting to sink cargo ships. Today, the 300-acre, three-runway facility handles an average of 350 arrivals and departures daily, peaking on winter weekends as tourists enjoy South Florida’s temperate weather. Summer, with its stifling, visitor-repelling heat and the constant threat of plane-grounding thunderstorms, is not nearly as lucrative.

Marian Smith, owner of Palm Beach Flight Training, said her 19-year-old business is losing 24 flights daily when closed and three students cancelled. She lost $28,000 combined the last two weekends and will lose $18,000 on this President’s Day weekend. She estimates her 19 instructors are each losing up to $750 a weekend.

“What’s frustrating is that we get little notice when this is going to happen,” she said.

This week, rumors began Monday. The closure notice arrived Wednesday.

David Johnson, owner of Palm Beach Aircraft Services, said his 27-year-old repair and maintenance business generates $2 million in sales annually, but has taken a hit over the last month and he fears it will cascade if flight schools like Smith’s close. He has written a letter he hopes gets delivered to Trump this weekend asking him, one businessman to another, to help resolve the conflict.

“Even if the TSA had to screen every pilot going out of here, we would be open to that,” Johnson said. “But so far, we’ve gotten nothing.”

Jorge Gonzalez, owner of SkyWords Advertising, a banner towing service, said his company lost four contracts totaling $42,500 because of Trump’s visits. He wants exceptions made for three pilots to fly within the restricted zone when the president visits because it is where thousands of residents live and tourists stay.

“We have spent 10 years building this business,” said Gonzalez’s wife, Hadley Doyle-Gonzalez. “We just can’t pick up and move.”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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Donald Trump says Sweden comment followed TV report

Swedes have been scratching their heads since President Donald Trump suggested that some kind of major incident had taken place in their country Friday night. Trump is now clarifying his comments, saying he was referring to something he saw on television.

Trump first referenced Sweden during a Florida rally on Saturday as he talked about past terror attacks in Europe. He told supporters, “Look what’s happening last night in Sweden.”

In Sweden, the remark raised eyebrows and sparked derision about a fact-challenged president. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Catarina Axelsson said that the government wasn’t aware of any “terror-linked major incidents.”

On Sunday, Trump tweeted that his statement was in reference to a story broadcast on Fox News concerning immigrants and Sweden.

The president may be referring to a segment aired Friday night on the Fox News show “Tucker Carlson Tonight” that reported Sweden had accepted more than 160,000 asylum-seekers last year but that only 500 had found jobs. The report went on to say that a surge in gun violence and rape had followed the influx of immigrants.

A White House spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, says that Trump was talking about rising crime and recent incidents in general, not referring to a specific issue.

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Donald Trump rallies Florida crowd with some old themes, renewed attack on media

Just four weeks into his administration, President Donald Trump appeared at a campaign rally that mirrored the months leading up to Election Day, complete with promises to repeal the health care law, insults for the news media and a playlist highlighted by the Rolling Stones.

“I want to be among my friends and among the people,” Trump told a cheering crowd packed into an airport hangar in central Florida, praising his “truly great movement.”

Trump promised anew to build a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, reduce regulations and create jobs. He also pledged to “do something over the next couple of days” to address the immigration order that has been blocked in the courts. Said Trump: “We don’t give up, we never give up.”

Insisting he was the victim of false reporting, Trump said his White House was running “so smoothly” and that he “inherited one big mess.” The president has been trying refocus after reports of disarray and dysfunction within his administration.

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One before the rally, Trump said he was holding a campaign rally because “life is a campaign.”

“To make America great again is absolutely a campaign,” he said. “It’s not easy, especially when we’re also fighting the press.”

And he’s also had to contend with crowds of protesters. Thousands of them were out on the streets of Dallas and Los Angeles to oppose immigration enforcement raids and to support immigrants and refugees generally. In Los Angeles, an organizer urged local authorities not to spend money on immigration enforcement.

Trump, who held a rally in the same spot in Florida in September, clearly relished being back in front of his supporters, welcoming the cheers and letting one supporter up on stage to offer praise for the president. He also enjoyed reliving his surprise victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

First Lady Melania Trump introduced her husband at the rally, reciting the Lord’s Prayer before offering her own pledge to act in the best interest of all Americans as she pursues initiatives she says will impact women and children around the world.

The event had the familiar trappings of a Trump campaign rally, including red Trump caps, “Make America Great Again” and “Trump/Pence” signs and at least one sign reading “Hillary for Prison.” Some of the speakers ahead of Trump’s appearance called for repealing and replacing President Barack Obama’s health care law, criticized the news media or lobbed barbs at Clinton, other constants of last year’s rallies.

The music playlist preceding Trump’s appearance included rally favorites like Free’s “All Right Now.” As Air Force One rolled up to the hangar, the theme to the Harrison Ford movie “Air Force One” signaled its arrival. Trump and the first lady appeared as Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” played. And his 45-minute remarks were followed by another 2016 campaign favorite, the 1969 hit “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by the Rolling Stones.

The rally came during Trump’s third straight weekend at his private south Florida club, Mar-a-Lago. It was another working weekend for the president, who planned to interview at least four potential candidates for the job of national security adviser, a position unexpectedly open after retired Gen. Michael Flynn‘s firing early this week.

Trump said Saturday “I have many, many that want the job, they want to really be a part of it. I’ll make a decision over the next couple of days.”

Scheduled to discuss the job with the president were his acting adviser, retired Army Lt. Gen. Keith KelloggJohn Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster; and the superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the four interviews were expected to take place Sunday at the private estate.

Finding a new national security adviser was proving to be a challenge for Trump. His first choice, retired Vice Adm. Robert Harward, turned down the offer.

Trump had also expressed interest in former CIA Director David Petraeus, but Spicer said Saturday that Petraeus was not a finalist. The retired four-star general resigned as CIA director in 2012 and pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified information relating to documents he had provided to his biographer, with whom he was having an affair.

Flynn resigned at Trump’s request Monday after revelations that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about discussing sanctions with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. during the transition. Trump said in a news conference Thursday that he was disappointed by how Flynn had treated Pence, but did not believe Flynn had done anything wrong by having the conversations.

Trump has lurched from crisis to crisis since the inauguration, including the botched rollout of his immigration order, struggles confirming his Cabinet picks and a near-constant stream of reports about strife within his administration.

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680 Cubans returned home since end of ‘wet foot, dry foot’

About 680 Cubans have been returned to the island from various countries since then-President Barack Obama ended a longstanding immigration policy that allowed any Cuban who made it to U.S. soil to stay and become a legal resident, state television reported Friday.

Cuba’s government had long sought the repeal of the “wet foot, dry foot” policy, which it said encouraged Cubans to risk dangerous voyages and drained the country of professionals. The Jan. 12 decision by Washington to end it followed months of negotiations focused in part on getting Havana to agree to take back people who had arrived in the U.S.

Cuban state television said late Friday that the returnees came from countries including the United States, Mexico and the Bahamas, and were sent back to the island between Jan. 12 and Feb. 17. It did not break down which countries the 680 were sent back from.

The report said the final two returnees arrived from the United States on Friday “on the first charter flight especially destined for an operation of this type.”

Florida’s El Nuevo Herald newspaper reported that the two women were deemed “inadmissible” for entry to the United States and placed on a morning flight to Havana.

Wilfredo Allen, an attorney for one of the women, says they had arrived at Miami International Airport with European passports. The women requested asylum and were detained.

The repeal of the “wet foot, dry foot” policy was Obama’s final move before leaving office in the rapprochement with the communist-run country that he and Cuban President Castro began in December 2014. The surprise decision left hundreds of Cubans stranded in transit in South and Central America.

Before he assumed the presidency on Jan. 20, Donald Trump criticized the detente between the U.S. and Cuba, tweeting that he might “terminate” it.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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A month into presidency, Donald Trump prepares for a campaign rally

President Donald Trump is holding a campaign rally Saturday in politically strategic Florida — 1,354 days before the 2020 election.

The unusually early politicking follows a pattern: Trump filed his paperwork for re-election on Jan. 20, Inauguration Day. By comparison, President Barack Obama didn’t make his re-election bid official with the Federal Election Commission until April 2011.

Huge rallies were the hallmark of Trump’s presidential campaign. He continued to do them, although with smaller crowds, throughout the early part of his transition, during what he called a “thank you” tour.

The Florida event will be his first such one as president.

“I hear the tickets — you can’t get them,” Trump said Thursday during a meeting with lawmakers. “That’s OK, that’s better than you have too many.”

Trump responds well to the supportive crowds, who often chant, cheer and applaud enthusiastically when he speaks. The rallies serve a practical purpose by enabling his campaign to continue building a list of supporters. To attend, people must register online, giving their email address and other personal information that the campaign can use to maintain contact and raise money.

Trump’s upcoming evening event is set for an airport hangar in Melbourne, Florida, and it comes as he makes another weekend trip to what he calls his “Winter White House,” his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach.

Trump also said he would play golf this weekend with Ernie Els, a South African professional golfer. It will be his Trump’s third consecutive weekend at Mar-a-Lago.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the rally is “being run by the campaign.” It follows an official trip Friday to South Carolina, where Trump will visit a Boeing facility in North Charleston.

Spicer and others at the White House have not responded to repeated questions about why Trump’s embryonic campaign is organizing this rally, or about who will pay for the event and transportation to and from it. Presidents regularly hold large campaign-style events to build support for their policies. Those events are often considered part of their official duties and organized by the White House.

Michael Glassner, executive director of Trump’s campaign committee, also did not respond to questions.

Trump’s campaign is running the event because Trump does not want to spend taxpayer dollars on it, a person close to him said. The person requested anonymity to discuss private conversations.

Although Trump is getting started far earlier than his predecessors, it’s common for presidents to combine political and governing events into the same trip. When that happens, the campaign picks up the tab for part of the trip and taxpayers for the rest.

Trump’s campaign account had more than $7.6 million in the bank at the end of the year, according to fundraising reports. He’s continued raising money postelection by selling popular merchandise, such as the ubiquitous red “Make America Great Again” ball caps.

On Thursday, as the president wrapped up a confrontational press conference with the media — during which he repeatedly referred to coverage as “unfair” and “fake news” — one of Trump’s campaign accounts emailed a “media survey” to his supporters.

The 25 multiple-choice questions included: Do you believe that the mainstream media has reported unfairly on our movement? Do you believe that our Party should spend more time and resources holding the mainstream media accountable?

After clicking through the survey, there’s a prompt to donate money.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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Producers can’t keep politics from edging into Oscar show

Meryl Streep ushered politics into Hollywood’s awards season when she used her Golden Globes acceptance speech to condemn President Donald Trump for what she called his “instinct to humiliate.” Stars were even more outspoken at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, held just days after Trump’s travel ban caused havoc at airports across the country. Even last week’s performance-heavy Grammy Awards had a political edge when members of A Tribe Called Quest raised their fists and Q-Tip repeated a call to “Resist.”

The Feb. 26 Academy Awards are the final stop of the industry’s annual two months of self-adulation, and while show producers aren’t planning any political content, the night’s winners might be.

As much as first-time Oscar telecast producers Michael De Luca and Jennifer Todd may want their show to focus on the magic of the movies, they say they support any message spoken from the heart, even if it means turning the Oscar podium into a political pulpit.

“The show has to stand behind the free exchange of ideas,” De Luca said in a recent interview. “I do believe a little bit in the famous Sam Goldwyn quote about movies: ‘If you want to send a message, call Western Union.’ And there’s a school of thought that says people are tuning in to celebrate the storytelling that’s moved them, and should we limit what we say to a celebration of that?”

But Oscar-caliber artists “are the kind of people that do get moved by the environment and the world they live in,” De Luca said, and they may want to use their moment on stage “to share those feelings the same way you shared the story that you’re being nominated for, and we want to honor that, too.”

Given the tone set by celebrities at other awards shows this season — and on social media since the election — some anti-Trump rhetoric at the Oscars wouldn’t be surprising. The show already has a political element: The Iranian director and star of foreign language film nominee “The Salesman” have said they will not attend the ceremony in protest of Trump’s travel ban.

Film academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs was clear at the annual nominees’ luncheon last week that the organization supports artists and freedom of expression.

“Each and every one of us knows that there are some empty chairs in this room, which has made academy artists activists,” she said. “There is a struggle globally today over artistic freedom that feels more urgent than at any time since the 1950s.”

Oscar host Jimmy Kimmel hasn’t given much hint of his approach for the show. Winners are free to use their allotted 45 seconds of speaking time as they please.

“I hope that the Oscar speeches, whatever they are, are just well said,” co-producer Todd said. “I loved when Patricia Arquette talked about fair pay (when accepting the supporting actress Oscar in 2015). She did a beautiful job and she spoke from her heart. So I just think that as long as you’re going to do it, do it well.”

Passionate expressions also make for compelling television, De Luca added.

“Those feelings can create moments for the telecast that are really memorable,” he said. “And spontaneity is our friend. Anything that’s not scripted, that’s natural and from the heart, is a good thing for the telecast.”

And if viewers who disagree with the politics decide to tune out?

“We’re of a mind of: Let people be the people they are and not worry about the public reaction,” De Luca said.

Oscar nominees and guests say they expect politics to have a presence at the 89th Academy Awards.

“I suppose each Oscar show represents its time on some level,” said Viggo Mortensen, nominated for lead actor for “Captain Fantastic.” ”I think the Trump White House so far is not about being, let’s say, completely honest and above board. It’s not really about intellectual curiosity. It’s not about listening to people who think differently. It’s about, to some degree, shutting people up who you don’t like or who don’t agree with you, and I think the Oscars will probably be the opposite of that.”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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CNN: Donald Trump attacks haven’t hurt the news network

The president of CNN said Thursday that neither the network’s journalism or business have been hurt as a result of President Donald Trump‘s attacks.

Jeff Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide, spoke Thursday at the same time Trump was holding a news conference in Washington in which he continued his barrage against media coverage of the administration.

Zucker said he was worried enough about Trump’s labeling of CNN as “fake news” through the campaign and after that he ordered a study last month to see if it had damaged the network’s reputation with viewers. He said it hadn’t. Less than a third —or 31 percent — of 2,000 Americans surveyed said they believed CNN’s coverage of Trump had been unfair, the internal study found.

The survey also reported that a little more than half of respondents said they trusted CNN, but that was well above the trust level for Trump or members of Congress.

“The CNN brand has been as strong as it has ever been,” Zucker said. Network executives said CNN had its most profitable year in 2016 and was on pace to do even better this year.

The administration has reportedly banned its officials from appearing on CNN, although there have been sporadic exceptions. The dispute has been most apparent on Sundays, where on two weekends Vice President Mike Pence and presidential aide Stephen Miller were guests on other network political affairs shows but not on Jake Tapper‘s CNN show, “State of the Union.”

Zucker, who said he had not spoken with Trump since December on this or other issues, said it hasn’t affected CNN’s ability to tell the political story.

“We don’t feel it’s hurt us in any way,” he said.

Angered by the Pence snub, CNN said that it declined an administration offer to instead have aide Kellyanne Conway on Tapper’s show, saying she had credibility issues. Conway has said she wasn’t available that day. But Tapper interviewed her two days later. “Saying that we have questions about her credibility does not mean that we would never interview her,” Zucker said.

Like its rivals, particularly Fox News Channels, CNN has benefited from extraordinary interest in the new administration. CNN’s ratings are up 51 percent this year compared to last, he said. That’s unusual because news network ratings usually tumble after a presidential election.

Trump’s lengthy news conference on Thursday was filled with media criticism. But he took questions from a range of reporters; many White House reporters — including CNN’s Jim Acosta — had been concerned over the past week when Trump bypassed the mainstream media in three separate news conferences connected to visits by foreign leaders, instead calling on representatives from more friendly news outlets. On Thursday Trump even took questions from Acosta, but also specifically criticized some of CNN’s coverage of him.

The president said that CNN’s 10 p.m. news show, hosted by Don Lemon, “is almost exclusive anti-Trump.”

“I would be your biggest fan in the world if you treated me right,” Trump said. “I sort of understand there’s a certain bias, maybe by Jeff or somebody, you know, whatever reason. And I understand that. But you’ve got to be at least a little bit fair and that’s why the public sees it. They see it. They see it’s not fair. You take a look at some of your shows and you see the bias and the hatred.”

Acosta, for his part, told the president that “just for the record, we don’t hate you. I don’t hate you.”

After the news conference, CNN’s Tapper said the president was “unhinged.” He said that Trump’s performance might play well among people who voted for him, but “a lot of people are going to say, ‘that guy isn’t focused on me. I don’t know what he’s focused on.'”

A few minutes later on Fox News Channel, Bret Baier said that Trump’s “mesmerizing” performance was an illustration of why people had supported him.

“There are people who are going to say that it was unhinged, or their heads are going to explode at something he said, but this is Trump being Trump,” Baier said.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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Florida man accused in plot to bomb Target stores

A Florida man is accused in a plot to blow up several Target stores along the East Coast in an attempt to acquire cheap stock if the company’s stock value plunged after the explosions.

Mark Charles Barnett, 48, was charged in a criminal complaint filed Thursday with possession of a firearm affecting commerce by a previously convicted felon, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Florida’s middle district. Barnett, a registered sex offender in Florida, faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

A team of federal, state and local officials arrested Barnett Tuesday in a parking lot in Ocala. He was taken to the Marion County Jail, where he’s still being held. Jail records don’t say whether he’s hired a lawyer.

According to an affidavit, Barnett offered to pay another man $10,000 to place at least 10 “improvised explosive bombs” disguised in food-item packaging on store shelves from New York to Florida.

The criminal complaint said Barnett delivered the items to the other man Feb. 9. He also provided a bag of gloves, a mask and a license plate cover.

But the other man went to authorities. He handed over 10 food boxes — for breakfast bars, stuffing and pasta — that contained black powder bombs, according to the Ocala Star-Banner.

Special Agent Dewane L. Krueger of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, told the newspaper that he and other ATF agents were told last month that Barnett wanted to recruit someone to deliver packages to multiple locations, including stores in Florida, Virginia and New York.

“The swift work of ATF special agents, explosives enforcement officers and other specialized violent crime resources foiled this individual’s plot that could have caused great harm to the public,” said Daryl McCrary, special agent in charge of the ATF Tampa Field Division.

The complaint said an explosives expert determined the bombs were capable of causing property damage, serious injury or death to anyone who was near the item if it exploded. Federal agents searched Barnett’s house in Ocala and found components consistent with those used to create the explosive devices.

ATF officials said Barnett made statements about the stock market and said that he planned to make money from his investments. They said his plan was to buy stock at lower prices and resell it at a profit once prices rebounded after the explosions.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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