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Law

Inmate charged with trying to kill judge, prosecutor


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(CNN) -- A federal inmate has been indicted on charges he tried to have a judge and prosecutor murdered and the children of an FBI agent kidnapped.

A federal grand jury in Lexington, Kentucky returned a seven-count indictment Thursday against Anthony Erpenbeck Sr.

Already serving a 70-month sentence for trying to influence testimony in a bank fraud case involving two of his own children, Erpenbeck is now charged with threatening a federal official and the official's family member; and solicitation to commit a crime of violence.

If convicted, he could face an additional sentence of 20 years in prison.

"This was an instance in which we had an informant," said Gregory Van Tatenhove, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky. "We have direct, specific, credible evidence." He said the level of specificity with regard to the threats was "chilling."

According to the indictment, Erpenbeck in late 2004 tried to arrange the murders of U.S. District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen Brinkman, both in Ohio. In addition, he tried to arrange the kidnapping of the children of FBI agent Timothy Tracy.

The attempts apparently occurred while Erpenbeck was housed at the Federal Medical Center in Lexington. He now is housed elsewhere.

Erpenbeck's son, A. William, Jr., is serving two concurrent terms of 30 years in prison for obstructing justice and for masterminding a bank fraud scheme worth more than $26 million.

The elder Erpenbeck has been serving 70 months for obstruction of justice in that same case. The two men were sentenced last year after pleading guilty to trying to convince Erpenbeck's daughter to lie on the witness stand as far as her involvement in the scam.

Handing down the sentence was Judge Spiegel. Brinkman, who prosecuted the case, has since retired.

Van Tatenhove said Anthony Erpenbeck was attempting to hire someone to kill Spiegel and Brinkman and was seeking someone to kidnap Tracy's children. There was no specific date given for those plans.

Although Van Tatenhove would not release specific details about the case, sources familiar with the situation told CNN, Erpenbeck sought the assistance of a fellow inmate due to be released soon to carry out the plan.

"That's enough right there, obviously, for federal charges," Van Tatenhove said. "You don't have to carry out the act."


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