WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - A man already in federal custody on charges of running a multimillion dollar Ponzi scheme is now being connected to explosive devices found in storage units outside of Philadelphia and also in Wilmington.
Istvan "Steve" Merchenthaler was first arrested by federal authorities in May of 2012 for allegedly stealing more than $2 million from more than 200 investors in a phone card scam.
NBC10 Philadelphia reported last week Merchenthaler led the FBI to a storage unit in Chester County storage facility where authorities found 60 explosive devices. A source told NBC10 that the storage unit was in Merchenthaler's name and that bombs were located in other storage units in other states.
One week before bombs were found in a Wilmington storage unit, Merchenthaler was arrested by the Maryland State Police for unlawfully taking a car and stealing between $10,000 and $100,000. Court documents say Merchenthaler was living in Maryland at the time of the arrest. Reports in the area say a local judge agreed to turn Merchenthaler over to federal authorities shortly after the arrest.
The FBI confirmed to the Wilmington StarNews that Merchenthaler was connected to the bombs in both Wilmington and Pennsylvania, although they would not confirm that information to WECT.
While searching for the explosive devices in Wilmington, SBI and FBI investigators searched a home on Mainsail Lane. At the time, law enforcement officials told WECT that the same person renting the home had rented the storage facility where the explosives were found.
According to records at the New Hanover County Court House, the home on Mainsail Lane was being rented by a Charles Shreiner. Court documents show that Network Real Estate filed eviction paperwork for Shriener for failing to pay almost $4,000 in back rent. Shreiner's lease for the Mainsail Lane house was through October of 2013.
According to indictments released in federal court last week, Merchenthaler used as many as eight aliases including the initials "C.S."
An FBI spokesperson would not confirm if Merchenthaler's "C.S." alias was short for Charles Shreiner, or if Shriener and Merchenthaler were the same person.
Court documents filed in 2006 show that Merchenthaler was facing 20 years in prison after he was arrested in San Paolo, Brazil on charges of trafficking 20kg of cocaine. A year later those charges were dismissed.