URBANA – Federal prosecutors are seeking an indictment against a Prophetstown man accused of attempting to burn down the site of a future reproductive health clinic where abortions will be performed.
Philip J. Buyno, 73, who appeared in U.S. Central District Court via video on Wednesday, waived his right to a preliminary hearing and detention hearing, and Magistrate Judge Eric I. Long ordered him detained by the U.S. Marshals Service until the indictment is handed down.
Buyno is scheduled to be arraigned in the indictment, if one is issued, on June 9. The matter of his detention might be revisited.
He told Long on Thursday that he intends to represent himself. In the meantime, Sharbel Rantisi, an attorney with the Criminal Justice Act panel, will represent Buyno. The CJA represents federal defendants accused of serious crimes who cannot afford to hire their own attorneys.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugene L Miller is the lead prosecutor.
For now, Buyno is charged with attempted arson and faces five to 20 years in prison. What charges the indictment seeks won’t be made public unless it is unsealed.
According to the probable cause affidavit, Buyno told investigators he was a member of an anti-abortion “rescue group” that prevents abortion clinics from being established.
About 4:30 a.m. May 20, Buyno backed his car into the entrance of the Danville building. The car was filled with containers of gasoline, wood and old tires that he planned to use to burn the building down, he told investigators. His effort, which was caught on video surveillance cameras, failed when he became trapped inside the car.
Buyno also told investigators that, should he be released, he’d go back and finish the job.
He also said he was active in the anti-abortion movement in the 1980s and ‘90s, and rejoined the movement four years ago, after he retired, according to the affidavit.
Danville is near the Illinois-Indiana border, and residents from both states are expected to use the clinic, which city officials have said will perform abortions.
The building is owned by Indianapolis-based McGhee Investment Group, which is associated with the Indianapolis Clinic for Women, which provides abortion services.
McGhee Investment Group could not be reached for comment.