News and Press Releases

jury convicts chemist of possessing cyanide

December 1, 2010

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that an Independence, Mo., man was convicted by a federal jury today of illegally possessing potassium cyanide.

Hessam S. Ghane, 60, of Independence, Mo., was found guilty of the charge contained in a May 15, 2003, federal indictment. Ghane is a naturalized citizen from Iran. A chemist with a Ph.D., he was employed with the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers until 1993, and taught chemistry at Maple Woods Community College in 1996 and 1997.

Evidence presented during the trial indicated that Ghane unlawfully possessed 177 grams of potassium cyanide, a highly toxic chemical that is fatal in even small doses. The government alleged that Ghane possessed the chemical, which would be a sufficient amount to kill several hundred people, either to commit suicide or to harm federal employees.

Independence, Mo., police officers discovered the potassium cyanide under Ghane’s kitchen sink while executing a search warrant at his apartment on Feb. 5, 2003. Ghane had told an emergency room physician about the chemical when he was transported to Overland Park Regional Hospital a day earlier after calling a suicide hot line.

Following the presentation of evidence, the jury in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City deliberated about two hours before returning the guilty verdict to U.S. District Chief Judge Kathryn H. Vratil of the District of Kansas, ending a trial that began Monday, Nov. 29, 2010.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney D. Michael Green. It was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Independence, Mo., Police Department.

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