A former 1st District congressional candidate arrested last year in a bizarre federal case apparently will be released soon on a time-served sentence.
Jeremy J. Ryan, 31, of Madison is scheduled to enter a plea in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin on Friday.
Ryan was arrested Oct. 24 and later charged with trying to possess radioactive material with the intent of causing death or serious bodily injury. He has been in federal custody since then.
Ryan went to a website where illegal substances are sold and contacted a seller who was actually an FBI “covert employee” posing as a seller of radioactive substances, according to the criminal complaint.
Ryan told the seller he was looking for a poison that would kill and couldn’t be detected, “preferably something that is not going to be extremely brutal and drawn out,” according to the complaint.
In June, a second charge was added to Ryan’s indictment, trying to receive and possess nuclear material or byproduct with the likelihood of causing death or serious bodily injury.
A plea agreement published on the court’s website said Ryan has agreed to plead guilty to the second charge, which carries a 20-year maximum sentence.
But Ryan will be given the maximum sentence reduction for accepting responsibility, and attorneys for Ryan and the state agreed that time served is the “appropriate” sentence, the agreement states.
The judge has the option of rejecting the plea agreement and imposing a different sentence.
During proceedings, Ryan’s attorney argued that the person Ryan wanted to kill was himself, and he was of no danger to anyone else, a court document indicates.
The original indictment did not identify the substance Ryan was trying to buy, but later court documents indicate it was polonium-210.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission says polonium-210’s radiation “is many times more toxic than cyanide.”
The radiation does not penetrate skin but can be fatal in very small amounts if inhaled or swallowed, the NRC says on its website.
Polonium-210 was used to kill a former Russian spy in London in 2006, according to news reports.
In May, a therapist concluded that Ryan was competent to stand trial, although: “Ryan likely suffers from factitious disorder, which makes him unable to accurately assess his own health and his need for treatment. But this does not affect his understanding the legal process or his ability to assist his defense.”
The Cleveland Clinic’s website describes factitious disorder as a mental condition in which sufferers act as if they have a physical or mental illness when they actually have consciously created the symptoms.
“These people are willing to undergo painful or risky tests to get sympathy and special attention,” according to the website.
Ryan ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for the 1st Congressional District seat in the August 2018 primary and in the primary four years earlier. Legalization of marijuana was a prominent part of his campaign.