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Sterling Hall bomber Armstrong arrested after $800,000 cash found in vehicle

Convicted Sterling Hall bomber Karl Armstrong was arrested last week in Chicago after state troopers found more than $800,000 cash in heat-sealed bags stashed inside of a motor home that Armstrong was driving, according to a document filed Monday in court.

That arrest Thursday led to a search on Saturday by the state Division of Criminal Investigation of a town of Madison trailer home where Armstrong lives for evidence of marijuana trafficking, according to a search warrant filed in Dane County Circuit Court.

Neither Wisconsin nor Illinois authorities found marijuana in Armstrong's trailer or motor home.

A spokeswoman from the Illinois State Police office in Chicago did not return phone or email messages asking about Armstrong's current status.

Wisconsin Department of Justice spokeswomen Dana Brueck said DCI was asked to help another police agency and cannot comment on an open investigation.

During the search of Armstrong's trailer on Honeysuckle Lane in the town of Madison, investigators seized computers and data storage drives along with a digital camera, cellphone and various documents.

Armstrong, 65, was one of three men arrested for their roles in the Aug. 24, 1970, bombing that targeted the Army Math Research Center in Sterling Hall on the UW-Madison campus as a protest of Vietnam War. A fourth man wanted in the case, Leo Burt, has never been found. Researcher Robert Fassnacht was killed in the blast. Armstrong was sentenced to 23 years in prison, but his term was later reduced, and he was released in January 1980 after serving seven years.

According to the warrant:

Armstrong's motor home was stopped around 5:50 p.m. Thursday on Interstate 90 at the Fullerton Interchange. Trooper Jose Alvarez noticed that Armstrong seemed nervous and that his hand was shaking as he handed over his driver's license.

After writing Armstrong a warning for a traffic violation, he asked whether Armstrong had any drugs, guns or large amounts of cash, and Armstrong answered no. Alvarez asked if he could search the motor home, and Armstrong said no.

Armstrong agreed to wait for a police dog to be sent to the scene, but while waiting for the dog Armstrong approached Alvarez and said he had changed his mind and agreed to the search.

Inspecting a bed in the motor home, Alvarez noticed a plywood plank with scratched and tool-marked screws and removed the screws and plank. He found two duffel bags, a brown paper bag and a black cooler pouch. Each contained heat-sealed bags of cash, which was later found to total about $815,000. Investigators who processed the money said it smelled strongly of cannabis.

Armstrong was arrested but denied knowing anything about the money, only that he had $4,000 in traveling money and was returning home to Madison.