Florida sex offender sentenced in plot to bomb Target stores

Suspect planned to buy shares of retailer's stock after the explosions

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Florida man has been sentenced to 40 years in federal prison for concocting a plot to bomb several Target stores along the East Coast in the hopes that he could turn a profit once the resulting explosions drove down the price of the retailer’s stock.

Mark Charles Barnett, 50, of Ocala, was convicted in July of several federal offenses, including attempted arson, possession of an unregistered destructive device and making an unregistered destructive device, according to the Justice Department.

Evidence and testimony presented at trial showed that Barnett, a registered sex offender, offered to pay another person $10,000 to place the explosives inside the stores. He assembled 10 of the devices and hid them inside the packaging of common groceries.

Once the bombs went off, Barnett predicted Target’s stock price would spiral. He planned to buy up shares for a fraction of their value and hold onto them until prices rebounded. “If someone has to die so that I can make some money, so be it,” he said.

In reality, the person Barnett wanted to hire was a confidential source for federal investigators. So when Barnett dropped off the explosives with instructions to place them on store shelves from New York to Florida, the source handed over the bombs to authorities.

Federal explosives experts found that the devices were capable of maiming and killing people had they been planted and blown up as Barnett intended.

At the time of his February 2017 arrest, Barnett was on conditional release from state prison, where he served time for sexual assault, kidnapping and grand theft. He previously was convicted of kidnapping in a separate case in Mississippi.

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