Authorities eye 'person of interest' in 'implied threat:' Attorney says no one connected with SIST created list

Shawano Leader, Wisconsin/November 16, 2008

Local authorities said Friday there is a "person of interest" they believe is connected to a list of names allegedly implying a threat against 60 Shawano area residents, three of whom authorities believe have been targeted with physical harm.

In what was announced as the final press conference to be held on the subject - short of any developments warranting an official news release - Shawano Police Chief Ed Whealon said the remaining 57 persons named in the list "are not considered in danger of any physical harm."

Accompanied at the press conference by Shawano County Sheriff Randy Wright, Whealon said local authorities would no longer be available to take questions on what is a federal investigation. Any further information, he said, would come from either the FBI or joint-statements from the FBI and local authorities.

Reached by phone Friday afternoon, FBI supervisory senior resident agent Ray Greco told the Shawano Leader he would no longer talk about the investigation.

The information blackout came at the end of a week that saw the city besieged with media and television news trucks camped outside City Hall.

However, Friday's press conference shed some new light on the investigation and its origin.

Whealon said the Shawano Police Department was contacted on Oct. 30 by a Canadian resident described as a former business associate of the Samanta Roy Institute of Science and Technology (SIST).

The Canadian subject had "allegations that involved possible implied threats that involve residents, elected officials, along with media members of the Shawano area," Whealon said.

Whealon said the man had a list of individuals that SIST felt "were causing them problems in the community." According to Whealon, the man told authorities that "these SIST members wanted 'these people taken care of.'"

Whealon also said the Canadian subject who brought the list to authorities had been questioned by Canadian law enforcement and had provided documentation supporting his claims. Whealon said the individual was deemed by authorities to be credible.

Whealon said it was implied members of SIST were seeking to have harm done to certain individuals in the Shawano community. He said federal law required the potential victims to be notified of any possible threat.

Many of the people said to be on the list - which Whealon said Friday was a hardcopy document containing 60 names - were informed of the "implied threat" at an informational meeting held by the FBI and local authorities at a Shawano motel on Nov. 5.

"At that point of the investigation it was unknown to law enforcement what exactly the implied threats were," Whealon said. "At that time it was believed three individuals were the primary potential victims and the remaining persons, although considered potential victims, were considered persons who had caused SIST problems."

Whealon said further investigation had confirmed there were three individuals - whom he would not name - who were considered to be in physical danger. He said the others are not in danger of physical harm.

However, Whealon said all the people on the list were still being asked to be alert and vigilant.

Whealon said the "person of interest" suspected of having created the list "has been identified as a member of SIST."

Whealon said the person of interest is not in custody.

Shawano County Sheriff Randall Wright said law enforcement personnel have been made aware of the person of interest and measures have been taken to ensure the safety of the community.

Wright also said he did not feel there was a likelihood of the person leaving the area.

"At this time I don't consider this person as being on the move," Wright said.

SIST attorney Alan Eisenberg denied anyone involved with SIST was responsible for the list and said he did not believe the list even exists unless it was created by the city.

"No person connected with SIST ever created such a list," he said. "Where's this list? We want to submit it to handwriting experts. They (the city) created the list. If they didn't, let's see it."

Similar assertions were distributed late Thursday in a statement from SIST CEO Naomi Isaacson. The statement was handed out to the public by SIST members on Friday.

The statement accuses the city of hiring the Canadian man to swindle SIST out of $175,000 and then concocting the story of a threat list to rob them of that money. Whealon directly addressed the contents of the SIST statement during Friday's press conference, saying it included allegations no normal person could believe have any basis.

"I thought I was reading a script from the 'X-files,'" Whealon said. "It is absolutely ludicrous and totally false beyond description."

Event Timeline

Oct. 28 - According to CEO Naomi Isaacson, SIST wired $175,000 to a Canadian businessman as a fee in advance of a $10 million loan to SIST.

Oct. 30 - According to the Shawano Police Department, a Canadian citizen contacted law enforcement in Shawano to alert them to a list of names that SIST members wanted "taken care of."

Oct. 31 - According to Isaacson, the Canadian businessman acknowledged receipt of the $175,000 wire transfer.

Nov. 3 - Police receive a list of 60 names the Canadian citizen said was supplied by SIST. The list was forwarded to the FBI.

Nov. 5 - The FBI, Shawano Police Department and Shawano County Sheriff's Department hold an informational meeting to alert a number of area residents that their names are on a list of potential victims of a crime.

Nov. 12 - TV media leaks word of the FBI investigation, including the alleged link to SIST.

Nov. 14 - Isaacson is arrested on an unrelated federal warrant. A press conference is held announcing a person-of-interest in the case. Authorities say on the record for the first time they believe the list is connected to SIST.

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