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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Michigan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Engineering Grad Sentenced For Lying To FBI

Aaron Fein concealed using and trying to make mass casualty weapons

          GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN - U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge announced that Aaron William Fein, 25 years old, of Grand Rapids, was sentenced today to 27 months’ imprisonment by U.S. District Judge Paul L. Maloney. Fein pled guilty in July to lying to FBI agents about renting and training with an AR-15. Upon his release, Fein will be confined to his home and closely supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for 3 years. Both in custody and after his release, Fein will receive mental health treatment and counseling. As a result of his conviction, he is barred from possessing firearms in the future.

          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 last 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.

          District Judge Maloney imposed an enhanced sentence in this case based on several factors, including obstructing justice by asking a fellow inmate to help him dispose of evidence. Judge Maloney concluded a substantial term of incarceration was necessary because “Mr. Fein is a significant risk to the public.”

          Aaron Fein's behavior dictated that law enforcement get involved so that he would not continue to pose a danger to our communities," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Steven M. D'Antuono. "Today's sentence reflects a balance of the need to protect the public - by preventing Mr. Fein from purchasing weapons - with the recognition that he should be afforded the opportunity to receive the mental health services he needs.

          This investigation was a joint effort of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Kent County Sheriff’s Office and the Michigan State Police.

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Updated March 5, 2020