Former Sightings Guest Arrested
For Possessing Anthrax
By Judith Perera

Note: Larry Wayne Harris was a guest on this program for three hours on July 13, 1997. That program was rebroadcast on 11-30-97. Both are available and can be heard in the RealAudio Archives.
LAS VEGAS - Two men were charged Thursday with possessing the deadly germ anthrax for use as a weapon. The FBI said one bragged in Las Vegas he had enough to "wipe out the city" and last year laid out a plan to unleash bubonic plague on New York City subways.
The men were arrested in suburban Henderson late Wednesday as they were allegedly trying to arrange a lab test of the substance. Their beige Mercedes, sealed in plastic, was hauled off to a military base for tests to confirm whether the material carried inside was the germ warfare agent.
An informant said one of the men told him he had "military grade anthrax" in flight bags in the trunk of the Mercedes, according to an FBI affidavit. The informant said he saw eight to 10 bags marked "biological" in the trunk.
Larry Wayne Harris, 46, of Lancaster, Ohio, and William Leavitt, 47, of Las Vegas and Logandale, Nev., appeared before a federal magistrate Thursday afternoon, handcuffed to each other and shackled at the ankles.
They were charged under a federal law that prohibits the production and possession of any biological agent for use as a weapon.
Harris told the magistrate he could not afford an attorney. Leavitt told the court he did not understand the charges against him.
A detention hearing for the pair was continued until Monday while the government ran tests to determine whether the anthrax was military grade or simply an anthrax vaccine.
The FBI said the pair were trying to arrange to buy the informant's testing equipment for $2 million up front and another $18 million later.
Bobby Siller, special agent in charge of the Las Vegas FBI office, told a news conference before the affidavit was released there was no indication the men had any target.
Siller repeatedly reassured residents of the Las Vegas area that there was no contamination and no danger.
Anthrax is an infectious disease that usually afflicts only animals, especially cattle and sheep. But anthrax spores can be produced in a dry form suitable for weapons and can be fatal to humans even in microscopic amounts.
Anthrax can also be used in germ warfare; many of the troops who fought in the Persian Gulf War were inoculated for the bacteria.
Harris, identified by the FBI as a member of the Aryan Nations, was previously given probation after pleading guilty to illegally obtaining bubonic plague bacteria through the mail in 1995. He is also author of a self-published book called "Bacteriological Warfare: A Major Threat to North America."
Leavitt, who has no criminal record, owns a microbiology lab in rural Logandale, about 60 miles north of Las Vegas, and another in Frankfurt, Germany, according to the affidavit prepared by FBI Special Agent John H. Hawken.
In background information in the affidavit, the FBI said that last summer Harris described plans for the New York attack.
"Harris told a group of plans to place a 'globe' of bubonic plague toxins in a New York subway station, where it would be broken by a passing subway train, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths. Harris stated that the Iraqis would be blamed for that event."
The group was not identified and the plans were not detailed further in the affidavit.
The affidavit added: "Harris had stated that the New York subway attack would ruin the economy and take the military by surprise."
The affidavit said the informant called the FBI Wednesday to say he was a research scientist and had been contacted by Harris and Leavitt, who asked him to use some of his equipment to test vials of the bacterium Bacillus anthracis, which causes anthrax.
Over the next 12 hours, the informant kept in touch with the FBI and at least one phone call was tapped. The document outlined a meeting of Harris and Leavitt with another man at the Gold Coast Hotel.
The man, who was neither identified nor charged, was later tracked down by the FBI and related their conversation.
"Harris had shown him what appeared to be a vial, which was wrapped in cardboard and stated that it contained anthrax," the affidavit said. "Harris held the vial in his hand and further stated that there was enough there to 'wipe out the city."'
The affidavit said the informant first met Harris at a Denver science convention last August, and met Leavitt about six weeks ago. The three were working on a project to test a device to supposedly "deactivate" viruses and bacteria, the affidavit says.
The men also had contacted the source "some time ago" about testing E. coli and Bacillus subtilis bacteria, and on Tuesday told the source they had other organisms to test, including Bacillus licheniformis and Bacillus anthracis, the FBI said.
The FBI confirmed the informant's claims to be a research scientist, specializing in cancer research. The source had two felony convictions for conspiracy to commit extortion in 1981 and 1981, but the FBI said there was no deal cut for his cooperation.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which publishes the quarterly newsletter Intelligence Report about such groups, Harris was an Aryan Nations member at the time of the plague case, said spokesman Mark Potok.
In Hayden Lake, Idaho, Aryan Nations founder Richard Butler denied Harris was a member of his Christian Identity, a white-separatist sect.
Last year, Harris pleaded guilty to a count of fraud after he was accused of illegally obtaining bubonic plague bacteria through the mail from a laboratory. He said he never intended to hurt anyone and was sentenced to 18 months on probation.
Harris was arrested in May 1995 after a Rockville, Md., laboratory sent three vials of the freeze-dried, inactive bacteria to his home in Lancaster, Ohio.
Even after pleading guilty to the charge, Harris maintained he did nothing wrong. He said he wanted the bacteria for research for his book.
"I am a scientist. I am absolutely of no harm to anyone. I never, never intended to hurt anyone," he said then.
By The Associated Press

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