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Press Release

Engineering Graduate Pleads Guilty To Lying To Federal Agents

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Michigan

Aaron Fein concealed use of an AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle

          GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN - Aaron William Fein, 24 years old, of Grand Rapids, admitted in open federal court that he deliberately lied to the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force in April, 2019. Lying to federal agents is a felony carrying a penalty of up to five years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

          "This outcome holds Fein accountable for his deceit while assuring that he will have an opportunity for mental health treatment and not again be able to lawfully possess a firearm," advised U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge. "And it is thanks to the vigilance and tireless efforts of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and its multiple federal and local law enforcement partners that Fein was arrested and could be charged before posing further danger."

          Task Force Agents first became aware of Fein in August, 2018, when he attempted to cross into Canada without proper documentation. When he returned, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents found documents and materials in his car relating to bomb making and jihadism. Fein admitted having bomb-making materials at his home, and told agents he was interested in mass shootings. During the following months, Task Force Agents kept close tabs on Fein, including encouraging him to seek counseling.

          On several occasions this year, Fein obtained and attempted to obtain firearms and ammunition, but agents interceded. Agents eventually filed a petition for mental health treatment, and the Kent County Probate Court ordered Fein not to possess any firearms. In April, 2019, agents learned Fein had rented an AR-15 style semiautomatic assault rifle and trained with it at a firearms range in eastern Michigan. When they apprehended him soon after, he falsely stated he had not touched any guns. Video recordings from the range clearly showed him shooting the rifle. After additional investigation, agents learned Fein had bought metalworking tools. They arrested him at his residence, and found unassembled parts for multiple AR-15 rifles, as well as radio transmitters and electrical components for an improvised explosive device. Fein has a college degree in engineering.

          Fein will be held in custody until his sentencing in Kalamazoo, before the Hon. Paul L. Maloney, United States District Judge. FBI was assisted in this investigation by Homeland Security Investigations.


Updated July 23, 2019