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Published: Friday, 4/2/2004

Prankster charged in Perrysburg bomb hoax

Michael Lee Spencer Michael Lee Spencer

Perhaps he thinks he's funny. Police aren't laughing.

"It ended up going well, but it was a pretty big pain in the butt," said Perrysburg police Lt. David Weaver, whose officers were busy until early yesterday on a bomb threat that turned out to be a hoax.

An Albemarle County police sergeant in Charlottesville, Va., agreed: "If he was really intent on hurting someone, he could have done it."

The man arrested for the bogus bomb in a Perrysburg Kmart parking lot was identified as Michael Lee Spencer, 45, with no permanent address. He has been arrested at least a half a dozen times in other states - often for the same kind of prank, police said.

Charged in Perrysburg with inducing panic, a felony, he was being held last night in the Wood County Justice Center in lieu of $25,000 bond.

His latest run-in with authorities began about 9 p.m. Wednesday when Perrysburg Township police were called to Croy's Supper Club, 27096 Oakmead Rd., on a disturbance, Lieutenant Weaver said.

On the way to the jail on charges of disorderly conduct and having an open container of alcohol, Spencer told officers there was a bomb in his vehicle. Crews identified it as a white van sitting in the Kmart parking lot at Perrysburg Marketplace along U.S. 20 near I-75. They alerted Perrysburg police.

Crews closed nearby businesses, evacuated the area, and called in the Northwest Ohio Bomb Squad, who found a device with wires and batteries and a some shotgun shells. They determined it was a hoax and opened up the scene to the public again by about 1 a.m., Lieutenant Weaver said.

Meanwhile, police were learning more about Spencer's background, which includes a prison sentence that ended with his parole in December and an outstanding warrant from Albermarle County.

There, police said Spencer walked into a Kroger store with a device, announced that it was a bomb, held two employees against their will, and left with an undisclosed amount of money, possibly in a white van, Albermarle County police Sgt. Jim Bond said.

He previously was arrested for hoaxes or robberies in Virginia, Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming, Lieutenant Weaver said.

Spencer was convicted of robbery and having a bogus explosive device in Prince William, Va., in 1997. The conviction was part of a set of charges that netted him a 20-year prison sentence that he began serving in March, 1998, according to the Virginia Department of Corrections. He was released Dec. 1 on parole, a prisons spokesman said.

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