Clifton man gets 15 months in refinery bomb threat
A Clifton man was sentenced Monday to serve 15 months in federal prison for making threats to blow up himself and a dilapidated refinery in Fruita.
Michael Schonlau, 37, who is free on bond, was ordered by U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger to report to prison within 15 days. He pleaded guilty in April to making a threat and maliciously conveying false information, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Schonlau was arrested in August 2012 after calling the FBI and saying he planned to commit suicide by blowing up the former Fruita Refinery at 1493 U.S. Highway 6&50. An arrest affidavit said he told an agent he had explosives on him that were linked to a 200-million-gallon propane tank. The affidavit said he warned the agent that anyone who crossed over railroad tracks near the refinery would be a “trigger” for him.
Officers found two propane tanks at the refinery and .22 Ruger handgun underneath the driver’s side seat of Schonlau’s car.
Schonlau told the agent he “was attempting to tell everyone about the hazards of the refinery, and this was the only way he could get the message out,” the affidavit said.
Interviewed by the FBI, Schonlau said he was previously employed by a company hired to shut down part of the refinery and was “attempting to bring attention to safety hazards occurring during the process, including exposure to leaking (hydrogen sulfide) gas,” reads a copy of the plea agreement in the case.
Authorities concluded Schonlau brought two barbeque-sized propane tanks, which he left at the refinery, but no explosives or detonation devices were recovered,
Schonlau was prohibited from owning a handgun because of a May 2004 theft conviction.