Bombing threat suspect seeks release on bond

Michael Leroy Schonlau


Michael Leroy Schonlau

A Clifton man facing federal charges after allegedly threatening to blow up himself and a dilapidated refinery in Fruita is fit to be released from custody under certain conditions, and he’s willing to start mental-health treatment, the man’s attorney argued in a recent filing.

Michael Leroy Schonlau, 36, could safely be monitored in the community while free on bond with a combination of conditions and checks, attorney Stephen Laiche argues. Schonlau, who’s currently being held in custody without bond, would live with his grandmother at 3268 E Road and the home can accommodate a Global Positioning System tracking system, Laiche said. Schonlau would immediately enroll in a mental-health treatment program if released on bond, the attorney said.

Schonlau also would comply with any number of restrictions on his travel and activities.

“There has never been any argument or evidence that Mr. Schonlau is a flight risk or intending to leave the jurisdiction of the court,” Laiche argued in a motion.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Heldmyer has not responded. The issue is expected to be decided in a hearing scheduled for Dec. 13 before U.S. Magistrate Gordon Gallagher.

Schonlau’s bid for freedom comes after Laiche filed a motion Oct. 1 indicating a plea agreement has been struck in the case. He’s scheduled for a change of plea hearing on Feb. 4, 2013.
Schonlau was arrested Aug. 6 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.

Police closed roads in the area several hours on the night of Aug. 6, before he was arrested.

Officers found two propane tanks at the refinery, while a .22 Ruger handgun was found underneath the driver-side seat of Schonlau’s vehicle.

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 reads.

Schonlau was indicted Aug. 21 by a federal grand jury on charges of use of a telephone to threaten injury or destruction by explosives, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. He has a prior conviction for theft.

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