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Man in subway cyanide case remains in jail

CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) -- A judge said Wednesday that an unemployed man arrested last week for storing cyanide in an underground passage connected to Chicago's subway system is a "danger to the community" and said he would not grant bail to the man if he asked.

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Joseph Daniel Konopka, 25, waived his rights to a preliminary hearing and a detention hearing. Konopka will remain at Chicago's Metropolitan Correction Center while the case is investigated.

Federal Magistrate Judge Edward Bobrick said Konopka had "possession of dangerous materials for no legitimate and peaceful reason."

Bobrick further said he believed Konopka intended to use the cyanide to cause "as much damage as possible" and would "flee this jurisdiction" if he were granted bail.

Authorities have 30 days to present their findings to a federal grand jury, which would then decide if the evidence warrants an indictment.

If the grand jury finds that it does, the case would be assigned to a judge and preparations would begin for trial.

Neither defense nor prosecution attorneys commented after Wednesday's hearing. Konopka said nothing either during or after the five-minute hearing.

The charges unfolded after Konopka was arrested Saturday by University of Illinois at Chicago police for allegedly breaking into tunnels beneath the UIC Education Building, authorities said Monday.

Upon Konopka's arrest, UIC police recovered a vial containing powder that lab tests identified as sodium cyanide, a poison that also has industrial uses, officials said.

The school's police called the Chicago Police Department, which found Konopka was wanted in Wisconsin for failing to appear on state charges alleging vandalism against utility systems, the Department of Justice said in a news release.

Federal authorities took custody of Konopka, who told the FBI he had been living in the subway system for several weeks.

The FBI is trying to determine where Konopka got the cyanide and how he got keys to the locked passageway in the subway.

An FBI spokesman said Tuesday investigators do not believe Konopka is part of a terrorist plot, but U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald acknowledged the case is "a serious situation."

FBI agents and the Chicago police and fire departments searched subway tunnels after the arrest, and eventually found Konopka's belongings, including seven containers marked as holding various chemicals, officials said.

Tests determined Monday that one vial held 0.9 pounds of sodium cyanide and another held nearly 0.25 pounds of potassium cyanide, the release said.

Officials have found no work-related reason for Konopka to possess the cyanide, which can be used to clean metal. Both compounds can kill humans if ingested or converted to gas.



 
 
 
 


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