CHICAGO -- A convicted counterfeiter with an apparent grudge against the courts was arrested yesterday on charges of plotting to blow up a federal courthouse, but he never had materials to make a truck bomb, authorities said.
Prosecutors said Gale William Nettles, 66, was arrested with a pickup and 1,500 pounds of fertilizer that he allegedly thought was volatile ammonium nitrate.
Nettles had been released from prison in 2003 in the counterfeiting case and apparently retained a grudge against the court system, US Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald said.
Nettles was working alone, Fitzgerald said. The other people involved -- including those who delivered the fertilizer, which was not dangerous, to Nettles on Wednesday -- were cooperating witnesses and federal agents, he said.
Authorities said Nettles targeted the Dirksen federal building in downtown Chicago, which houses federal criminal and civil courts as well as the US attorney's office.
"He had a rational plan to build a bomb. We weren't going to wait to see if it would work," Fitzgerald said.