Shawano-area sect probe leaves questions after case closed

Green Bay Press Gazette/October 1, 2009

Although federal prosecutors will not pursue charges in connection to alleged threats against residents by a secretive group near Shawano, no one has given those named on the "implied threat" list the all clear.

"There is insufficient evidence at this time to merit criminal charges," U.S. Attorney's spokesman Dean Puschnig said Wednesday. "If further evidence is submitted, we'll re-evaluate the situation."

The FBI announced last week that it had concluded its investigation into the Samanta Roy Institute of Science and Technology and had turned the case over to the U.S. Attorney's Office for review. The group, based on a compound in nearby Wescott, was the focus of a probe after investigators connected it to a 60-person list naming Shawano-area officials and residents to be "taken care of" and identified a person of interest.

The institute, which also has been identified as The Disciples of the Lord Jesus, has operated in Shawano since the 1970s. It owns motels, gas stations and a go-cart track.

Local officials began the probe in November after a Canadian businessman came forward with the list and alerted law enforcement. The FBI became involved a short time later, and those named on the list were warned to be aware of their surroundings and pay extra attention to their safety.

Shawano Mayor Lorna Marquardt, whose name was on the list, talked with FBI officials Wednesday and received very little information.

An FBI supervisor in Green Bay "would not tell me that we could relax and that this wasn't a real threat," Marquardt said. "I think everybody's life has been changed over these many months."

Marquardt said she was told the FBI is planning a meeting with those named on the list, but no details have been set.

"I'm looking forward to the meeting to find out what information they have at this point," she said. "I have a lot of questions when we get to that meeting.

"I think the FBI owes it to all of us to let us know if that threat is still there or not.

"I have heard from others on the list, and everyone's looking for some answers," she said. "We will welcome that meeting as quickly as one can be arranged."

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