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Appeals court upholds would-be Oklahoma bomber’s conviction

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A federal appeals court has upheld the conviction of an Oklahoma man for trying to blow up an Oklahoma City bank.

The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday rejected claims by the appeal of Jerry Drake Varnell, 27, that he was entrapped by the government.

Varnell’s attorney did not immediately return a phone call for comment on Wednesday.

Varnell was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison for trying to detonate what authorities said he believed was a half-ton bomb (450-kilogram) outside BancFirst in downtown Oklahoma City because he was upset with the government.

The FBI had learned of Varnell’s plan from an informant and an undercover agent posed as someone who could help construct the bomb, but instead provided inert materials.

“There is no denying the FBI’s investigation in this matter was aggressive and its participation in constructing the bomb and choosing a target was extensive,” but Varnell had told the informant of his plans, according to the court’s ruling.

“The statements Varnell made ... before the investigation began were deeply troubling, and Varnell voluntarily engaged in serious criminal conduct during the course of the investigation,” according to the court.