picks up 2 men suspected of having deadly anthrax
February 19, 1998
NEW YORK (CNN) -- The FBI has taken two men into custody in Las Vegas after suspecting them of developing the deadly biological agent anthrax, top FBI sources told CNN on Thursday.
The men, who are believed to be U.S. citizens, were picked up Wednesday night, after "FBI agents were told the two men had biological agents," the source said. An FBI official said that the two were charged with plotting to use a toxic biological agent as a weapon.
FBI officials found an unknown substance at an undisclosed site, and dispatched the FBI Hazardous Materials Response Unit from Quantico, Virginia, to examine the material, the source said.
A spokesman for Nellis Air Force Base, near Las Vegas, said authorities impounded a vehicle at the request of the FBI. The spokesman gave no further details.
CNN was told that five U.S. Army specialists have gone to Las Vegas from the Army's Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. Four of the soldiers are with the Army's Technical Escort Unit, and one is a lab technician specializing in chemical and biological threats.
A source close to the investigation told CNN there is no sure evidence pointing to a specific target for the biological agent, but said one of the men in custody apparently made references to New York in some writings.
That same man was arrested two years ago in a case involving possession of a biological agent and had a map of the New York City subway system with him, but no link was ever established between the biological substance and the map, sources told CNN.
In a hastily called news conference on Thursday, New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said there was no connection between Wednesday's arrests and a purported plot to attack New York City.
"There was absolutely no plot or plan to attack the New York City subway," Giuliani told reporters at City Hall.
suspected of having anthrax predicted attack
Harris told talk show Iraqis poised to strike
February 20, 1998
LAS VEGAS, Nevada (CNN) -- A man arrested on charges of possessing what is believed to be the deadly toxin anthrax predicted on a radio talk show the day before his arrest that the United States would be the target of a major biological attack within two years.
Tuesday, Larry Wayne Harris, speaking on Talk America Radio Network's "The Buck Stops Here," gave a detailed description of what he said was a plot involving more than 200 "sleeper cells" of Iraqi students poised to unleash anthrax and bubonic plague bacteria on the American people.
"The odds of us making it through even the end of this century without a major biological incident are very low," Harris said.
Harris, 46, and William Leavitt Jr., 47, were arrested Wednesday night in a Las Vegas suburb after an informant called the FBI to report the two men told him they had anthrax. They are being held at the Clark County Detention Center.
Laboratory test results to determine whether a substance seized was in fact anthrax were delayed Friday. No reason was given.
Leavitt's attorney: Tests will be negative
Leavitt's attorney, Lamond Mills, said in an interview with CNN in Las Vegas he believes the tests will prove negative.
"On Monday, I think the test results will be in and show that it's non-toxic, and they're going to have to stand up and acknowledge that. And their case is going to be flushed," Mills said.
In the radio interview, Harris said he learned of a bacteriological threat against the United States because he was "heavily involved" in the training of Iraqis between 1985 and 1990 when he worked for a "corporation," an apparent reference to the CIA.
In the preface to his book, "Bacteriological Warfare: A Major Threat to North America," Harris claimed that he once worked for the CIA.
"I'm actually one of the scientists who was literally involved in training Iraqi microbiologists on how to conduct biological warfare defense," he said Tuesday.
Harris claims Iraqi students smuggled 'biologicals'
Harris said that after the 1991 Gulf War, he learned from a former Iraqi student he befriended that Iraqi "college students were now in the process of smuggling biologicals into the United States."
Harris then gave the radio audience a detailed descriptions of the methods the Iraqi students were using to grow the smuggled bacteria and distribute it to the "cells" around the U.S. for eventual attacks on U.S. cities.
"Anthrax, if you take a commercial paint sprayer and went up the Hudson River and sprayed it out into the air, you have a mist that moves over Manhattan," Harris said.
"People unsuspectingly walking in that area breathe in the deadly microbes," he said. "There's no smell. There's no taste. There's no boom. There's no bang. There is no indication."
The Iraqis were poised to attack at anytime, Harris said.
"They are here, and they are very able to hit us whenever they want to," he said. Harris claimed that a single individual with a single container of anthrax could kill between 400,000 and 1.3 million people.
Report: Harris admitted culturing anthrax
Back in November, Harris, a self-avowed white separatist, told U.S. News & World Report in an interview that he had cultured anthrax but did not plan to use it for any malicious purpose.
The magazine quotes Harris predicting that the Aryan Nations -- a far-right group to which he once belonged -- would strike at federal officials with biological agents if "they arrest a bunch of our guys."
They would "get a test tube in the mail," he said.
Leavitt, a businessman, who like Harris, is a licensed microbiologist, owns clinical laboratories in Logandale, Nevada, and Frankfurt, Germany, and is said to have been trying to develop a vaccine for AIDS.
His attorney, Mills, says Harris and Leavitt met at a scientific convention in Denver last August and discussed a joint project to develop a vaccine for anthrax.
Mills said that even if the lab tests are positive, federal officials "would have to prove that he knowingly was a part (of a conspiracy) to do something with that anthrax."
sentenced for probation violation
March 24, 1998
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - An Ohio man arrested in a Nevada anthrax scare was given a longer, more restricted probation on Tuesday for telling people he was with the CIA.
Larry Wayne Harris, 46, of Lancaster, was already on 18 months' probation from a 1995 conviction for illegally ordering bubonic plague bacteria by mail. A judge on Tuesday wiped the remaining six months off the books and gave him another year - effectively putting him on probation for an extra six months.
Harris and a second man were arrested in Las Vegas Feb. 18 after an FBI informant said they claimed to have deadly military-grade anthrax in their possession. Charges against Harris and William Leavitt Jr., 47, of Logandale, Nev., were dismissed on Feb. 23 after tests showed the material was a harmless anthrax veterinary vaccine.
Some of those charges - that he claimed to have deadly anthrax and produced infectious disease, bacteria or germs at his home in Lancaster, about 30 miles south of Columbus - later were dismissed by federal Magistrate Mark Abel for lack of evidence.
But Abel found there was enough evidence to hold a hearing on other accusations of probation violation, and Harris was released to face probation violation charges in Ohio.
During a U.S. District Court hearing in Columbus Tuesday, Harris admitted he violated probation by lying about an association with the CIA and failing to tell authorities that he switched hotel rooms while he was in Las Vegas.
Judge Joseph Kinneary imposed the new probation, which will require Harris to report to a probation officer more often.
Harris also was ordered to serve 50 hours of community service. He could have been sentenced to up to five years in jail for violating probation.
"I am sorry for any inconvenience I caused the court," Harris told Kinneary.
Later, as he left court, Harris said only that he felt "fantastic" but wouldn't comment further.
"Larry has done nothing wrong. He committed no crimes," his attorney Curt Griffith said after the hearing.
Griffith then warned Harris: "Don't let the word 'CIA' come out of your mouth."
Harris smiled in response.
Miami Beach anthrax scare was a hoax
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) - Workers at a glitzy Miami Beach fashion magazine were rushed to a hospital for decontamination Wednesday when a receptionist opened a letter purporting to contain infectious anthrax. Nineteen people were decontaminated and put on antibiotics as a precaution against the bacterium, which is found in cattle and sheep and can be used as a biological weapon. Authorities said late Wednesday the letter was a hoax, but they did not know what the envelope contained. "It is not anthrax, I repeat, not anthrax," said FBI spokesman Mike Fabregas. The hoax was the latest in a series of anthrax scares in the U.S. In late October, letters purporting to contain anthrax were sent to abortion clinics in several cities.
Hoaxes Are Sent In Mail
Threatening Letter Delivered to Post
By Maria Elena Fernandez
Two letters containing an unidentified substance and one terrifying word -- "anthrax" -- were opened in Washington yesterday, one at The Washington Post and the other at the Old Executive Office Building. The letters proved to be a hoax.
Similar letters arrived yesterday at an NBC News office in Atlanta and a U.S. post office in Columbus, Ga. They also appeared to be part of a deception that is becoming familiar across the nation.
Letters and packages claiming to contain the lethal bacteria have been delivered to courthouses, abortion clinics and office buildings, creating chaotic evacuations, mass quarantines and a wave of panic across the United States.
"It's almost a matter of routine now, particularly in L.A.," FBI spokeswoman Susan Lloyd said. "It happens so frequently. I know that a lot of manpower is used to respond to each of these incidents. I don't think anyone in public service wants to drop their guard."
A threatening letter arrived at The Washington Post on Wednesday afternoon, but was not opened until yesterday morning, Lloyd said. The rambling letter claimed that a substance enclosed in a double plastic bag was anthrax, prompting security personnel to contact law enforcement officials at 10 a.m., said Linda Erdos, a spokeswoman for The Post.
A D.C. Fire Department hazardous material crew responded to the 1100 block of 15th Street NW, removed the letter and determined it was unnecessary to evacuate The Post, Battalion Chief Tom Johnson said. The letter was turned over to the FBI's Domestic Terrorism Task Force, which determined yesterday afternoon that the substance was harmless, Lloyd said.
"It couldn't get loose, because it was in the double plastic bag, like a freezer bag," Johnson said. "We've gotten pretty experienced at determining these things."
Another letter, received at the Old Executive Office Building soon after the scare at The Post, "was similar if not identical to the one at The Post," said Lloyd, who added that the FBI was treating the cases as a single investigation. Secret Service agent Jim Mackin declined to elaborate on that letter. The Old Executive Office Building was not evacuated either.
In Atlanta, police evacuated a three-block area of the city's Midtown neighborhood as law enforcement officers dealt with a letter delivered to a local office of NBC News at 11:40 a.m. NBC spokeswoman Barbara Levin said that a letter "containing an anthrax" threat was received and the building was evacuated. About a dozen people underwent a decontamination procedure and were taken to a hospital.
The fourth letter was sent to a post office in Columbus, 85 miles south of Atlanta, said Atlanta-based FBI spokesman Jay Spatafore. He declined to comment further.
Law enforcement officials say the Georgia incidents do not appear to be the work of the same groups or individual. Police would not say whether they thought yesterday's letters were related.
Since late last year, nearly two dozen anthrax threats have been reported in greater Los Angeles. Last fall, several abortion clinics in the Midwest received letters claiming that a brown powder found in each of the envelopes was the deadly germ. All of the reports were false.
Anthrax spores, found in diseased sheep and cattle, can exist in water and soil and be transmitted by skin contact. The germs can also be spread in biological warfare.
An anthrax scare paralyzed part
of the District in April 1997 when a package was delivered to the international
headquarters of B'nai B'rith, sparking an hours-long chemical hazard alert
that closed several downtown streets. The powder in that package turned
out to be common bacteria.
© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company
Mayor criticizes FBI handling of anthrax scare Local authorities lament lack of communication
By Debbie Howlett and Toni Locy
The FBI knew about a possible anthrax contamination at Microsoft offices in Reno for 48 hours before local authorities were alerted -- by a television reporter.
The threat ultimately turned out to be bogus. The suspicious letter mailed in mid-October from Malaysia tested negative for anthrax spores. Even so, Mayor Jeff Griffin says, it was irresponsible for the FBI not to inform him so he could act to protect his city. And, he says, local police might have assisted the investigation.
''God almighty, I don't want to pick a fight with the FBI,'' Griffin says, ''but we've got to figure this out.''
Griffin's frustration is shared by other local authorities, who since the attacks Sept. 11 have become increasingly upset over what they say is a lack of communication and cooperation by federal law enforcement.
The frustration began boiling over into the public arena when local officials complained that Attorney General John Ashcroft issued two nationwide terrorism alerts in recent weeks without warning them in advance.
Tuesday, Ashcroft moved to ease tensions by ordering federal prosecutors to devise a system for sharing information with local and state law enforcement ''24 hours a day, 7 days a week'' by Dec. 1.
Ashcroft also said $9.3 million would be made available to help state and local officials in the anti-terrorism effort. He said the money could be spent hiring information analysts or buying communication equipment.
Local officials say enlisting their help can do more than ease their concerns that the FBI's lack of cooperation has left them in the dark and their constituents possibly vulnerable.
It can add 600,000 local law officials to the domestic war on terrorism, they say. Already, the 12,000 federal agents assigned to the biggest case in history have served 4,000 warrants and interviewed more than 1,000 people detained during the past 8 weeks. But they also are swamped with tens of thousands of phone tips that need to be checked out.
''To a man, my guys are ready to jump in,'' says Mike Berkow, police chief in Irvine, Calif.,
Ashcroft's steps toward fostering cooperation aren't all that need to be done to overcome barriers, local officials say.
Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, agree and have crafted legislation that would permit federal agents to share information with local law enforcement agencies.
Their bill would bridge a gap that critics say exists even with the recent passage of sweeping anti-terrorism legislation. The new law, the USA Patriot Act, eliminated barriers between federal agencies in sharing secret intelligence and criminal evidence among themselves, but not local and state police.
Ashcroft supports the Schumer-Hatch legislation, and in recent weeks, FBI Director Robert Mueller has publicly pledged three times to improve cooperation.
''I learned in some cases, the FBI was turning away your offers of help,'' Mueller told the nation's police chiefs at a convention last week. ''This is unacceptable.''
Even so, many wonder whether the gulf that exists between feds and locals can be easily overcome even in a time of national crisis. Many of the difficulties that stand in the way of cooperation, local and state law enforcement leaders say, are endemic.
A culture among federal agents leads to disdain for local police and their work, many say.
Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, a former FBI agent, says he remembers being taught during training that ''local law enforcement is undereducated and frequently corrupt. . . . That culture needs to be addressed.''
Other barriers are more recent and mundane. A secure communication system doesn't allow local law enforcement to e-mail FBI agents at the 56 field offices or headquarters.
Whatever it takes to overcome the gulf, it should happen quickly, officials warn.
''We're in a new world, and we have to cooperate with each other,'' New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani told a House terrorism subcommittee hearing last week.
Threat of a Threat
If the mail is once again used as a weapon of fear in Lafayette, will we be ready?
The Times of Acadiana
Posted on May 29, 2002
"I really hope, that in the community, that maybe this is a positive thing," says Craig Noel of Argus Security. What he refers to as a "positive thing" - surprisingly enough - is the rash of hoax letters that flooded Lafayette residences and businesses, such as Argus, April 19.
On that day some 200 letters arrived at destinations throughout town and even as far away as Baton Rouge and San Antonio, Texas. The letters, printed with a font that resembled handwriting, promised that 25 bombs would detonate April 27 during the height of Festival International de Louisiane. Some letters were also coated in a powdery substance that has since tested negative for anthrax. The letters also pinned responsibility on someone or something called "the Brothers" and contained two lines of Hebrew and Arabic writing.
Once translated, the mishmash of letters and accents broke down into meaningless gibberish. According to a translator, "I suppose the one who wrote these two lines knows very little Arabic and (they) didn't even come up with one single word."
No arrests have been made in the case [check HERE for information about the later arrest], but U.S. Attorney Donald Washington recently announced that his office is closing in on two suspects. However, the office would not divulge if the suspects matched the FBI profile previously given of "a loner with no friends."
Asked if he thought this incident might slip Lafayette into a "Boy Who Cried Wolf" syndrome, Noel states that he thinks it was an eye-opening experience and, "probably helped our readiness ... even though we were on a higher caution level, it even heightened that." With Vice President Dick Cheney's recent comments that another attack is "not a matter of if, but when," it is definitely a question worth asking.
The Times posed the same question to local authorities - does a false alarm like this hurt our readiness?
"Well, I think it affects our readiness. I think what it does is it sharpens our readiness," says Cpl. Mark Francis of the Lafayette Police Department. "The more you do something the better you get at it."
Although, in the months following Sept. 11, patrols have been stepped up in some vital areas of the city, and extra security has been brought in to guard electrical and water facilities, Francis does not see Lafayette as a target. He blames the hoax on "local folks pretty much trying to mirror what's going on around the world ... trying to take matters into their hands to make a point."
Another authority who shares Francis' sentiments is Trent Strasburg of the Louisiana district of the U.S. Postal Inspectors. The inspectors are brought in whenever the mail is used to violate laws - be it pipe bombs or pornography.
"It is one thing to sit back and have meetings and say we are going to do this and do that," says Strasburg. "But, when the group actually has to respond, not knowing if it is real or not, then we see how effective it is going to be. From that standpoint I think it was an improvement. All that came together real well and certainly showed us what we were doing right and what we can do better next time."
Since the letters scare, little has changed in Lafayette post offices. Troy Southerland, Lafayette's postmaster, says that his post offices were already taking the necessary precautions with the mail stream. However, he does admit that, unless there is a spill, it is hard to catch something like fake anthrax in the half million pieces of mail that travel through Lafayette every day.
"We, like every other post office, are taking much precaution," says Southerland. "However, they (Lafayette citizens) are entitled to delivery service whether they are the person sending or receiving, and we are going to provide that service."
Although these officials tout this incident as a great training exercise, it did not come without great costs.
On Oct. 30, 2001, Katherine Howard didn't feel like missing her child's birthday party to go in to work at the Burger King in Fort Polk's Post Exchange. Instead of calling in sick, she made a decision that would change her life forever.
From a payphone, Howard and an accomplice phoned in an anthrax threat to the PX, thereby evacuating the building and freeing her from her work commitment. After the threat, the PX was evacuated and 27 people were decontaminated, sent to the hospital and given prescriptions for antibiotics.
On Tuesday, May 14, Howard pled guilty to the charge of threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction. This crime carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000. The authorities response to her call and the PX's loss amounted to $250,000. If this one incident cost a quarter million dollars, how much will 200 incidents cost?
After the letters hoax, postal inspectors based in New Orleans were dispatched to Lafayette to investigate the case. Although Strasburg could not estimate a price tag on this investigation, he did say that, "it all adds up in a hurry."
Strasburg states that there were between five and 15 inspectors working on the Lafayette case. These inspectors' annual salaries, which vary depending on their tenure with the department, range from $40,000 to $95,000. These salaries do not account for travel expenses, lodging, lab costs and the inspectors' support staff.
In Lafayette, the Fire Department, according to Deputy Chief James Hebert, spent $16,130 in response to the 184 anthrax calls it received between April 19 and 29. The bulk of the costs occurred in the department's deployment of trucks and supplies used to handle the calls. Deploying trucks to each of the 184 calls cost $50 each, totaling $9,200. Ziploc bags (the department used three or four for each call) at $1.10 each rang up $607. Four protective gloves were used for every call at $3 a pair, costing them $1,104. Protective Level B suits cost the investigating firefighters $720. About another $80 was doled out for bleach and pump sprayers. The department estimates that it spent $4,416 on officers' salaries, which it used sparingly to avoid high overtime costs, in response to the hoax.
The Police Department, on the other hand, was forced to call in off-duty officers to help control the situation. According to Francis, the Police Department incurred between $5,500 to $6,000 in overtime costs alone. There were also lots of hidden costs that could not be tabulated because much of the officers' weekend shifts were devoted to the case.
The Fire and Police departments alone have already spent around $22,000 just on responding to this hoax. This amount does not include the untold amounts lost by businesses shutting down or the costs that are being incurred by the investigation - costs which the U.S. attorney's office could not comment on - and the costs that will stem from the arrest and prosecution of the letter writer.
Says the Post Office's Southerland, "Eventually somebody's going to have to pay for this. If you spend half a million dollars on a hoax somebody's got to pay for it. You can't expect the police department, the fire department, the Hazmat unit to be out there when this is going on and not be paid.
"Eventually," the postmaster concludes, "you and I, pay for it in taxes."
Nick Pittman is associate editor for The Times. Phone him at 237-3560, ext. 117, or e-mail him at email@example.com.
on Sat, Jun. 01, 2002
Oakland man arraigned on suspicion of mailing anthrax threat to Ashcroft
By Sandra Gonzales
A 33-year-old man appeared in Oakland federal court Friday for an anthrax threat he allegedly made against U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft that forced a Wyoming postal facility to close for two days in December.
Dean Wilbur, 33, of Oakland was arrested Thursday on a federal warrant, charging him with threatening the use of a weapon of mass destruction.
He's accused of mailing in mid-December an envelope containing white powder, with a handwritten note implying it was anthrax. The envelope, addressed to Ashcroft, had a Laramie, Wyo., postmark. It was discovered at the U.S. Postal Service Processing Center in Cheyenne, Wyo., on Dec. 17, when the envelope burst open and a white powdery substance spilled and scattered at the facility. FBI spokesman Andrew Black said Wilbur was traveling from the Washington, D.C., area to the Bay Area when he mailed the letter in Wyoming.
As a result of the spill, seven postal employees were hospitalized for observation, and the facility was closed for two days while the substance -- which turned out to be baby powder -- was tested.
A subsequent investigation linked Wilbur to the letter, and he was indicted by a Wyoming federal grand jury May 17.
Wilbur's arrest Thursday at his Jackson Street home is part of an ongoing investigation by the Bay Area Joint Terrorism Task Force, a 24-member agency that focuses on terrorists acts.
The FBI, the U.S. Marshal's Office and California Highway Patrol assisted in Wilbur's arrest. Wilbur was advised of the charges in court Friday, and will have a hearing next month, when a court-appointed attorney may be assigned and a determination made on whether he will be tried in Wyoming or face the charges in the Bay Area.
Contact Sandra Gonzales at firstname.lastname@example.org or (510) 839-5321.
Hoax Case Falters
By EDMUND H. MAHONY
June 5 2002
It is unlikely anyone will be prosecuted for perpetrating the anthrax hoax that closed part of downtown Hartford last year because someone destroyed the evidence, and the credibility of a key witness was ruined when he was hurriedly arrested, officials said.
The disclosures were made in federal court in HartfordTuesday where state employee Joseph A. Faryniarz Jr. was supposed to plead guilty to lying to the FBI about the hoax. Faryniarz has never been suspected of perpetrating the hoax. Rather, he is accused of making misleading statements that contributed to turning a practical joke into an expensive security drama.
But after his lawyer portrayed Faryniarz in court Tuesday as the hoax victim, U.S. District Judge Alfred Covello postponed the proceeding until next summer and said there may not be enough evidence to support the charge of making false statements.
Faryniarz is the only person to be arrested after a bad joke among employees at the state Department of Environmental Protection turned into an anthrax contamination scare on Oct. 11, 2001, closing down a portion of Hartford's Capitol District for most of a day. The joke was supposed to be on Faryniarz. Someone put an anonymous note and what turned out to be non-dairy coffee creamer on his computer keyboard, his lawyer, Richard Brown, said in court.
Faryniarz alerted what his lawyer described as the DEP's building security office, and 800 workers were evacuated from DEP headquarters. The DEP employees - including Faryniarz - were forced to submit to uncomfortable decontamination procedures. The state claims it lost $1 million in worker productivity alone.
In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the subsequent wave of anthrax contaminations, federal officials were under enormous pressure to clamp down on hoaxes. Faryniarz was arrested four days after the Hartford hoax. A day later, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft called him a "coward."
Brown disclosed in court Tuesday that the so-called anthrax - key evidence if a case were to be made against the perpetrator - was missing. "Certain evidence is no longer in existence," Brown said. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Appleton later said Brown was referring to the white, powdery substance that caused the scare.
A variety of state and federal officials refused to discuss what happened to the faux anthrax. But a source, speaking on the condition that he not be identified, said it was destroyed by state officials.
The account of the anthrax scare that was given in court Tuesday suggests that Faryniarz might have been a key witness if a case were presented against the hoax's perpetrator. But lawyers said his credibility evaporated when he arrived in court prepared to admit to lying to federal investigators.
Although Covello said prosecutors might not be able to charge Faryniarz with making false statements to authorities, he could be subject to prosecution for having knowledge of the anthrax hoax, but failing to report it to authorities.
Brown said the anthrax fiasco developed on Oct. 10, 2001 - the day before the Hartford scare - when Faryniarz pointedly expressed disgust for the perpetrators of the hoaxes erupting across the country in the weeks following terrorist attacks.
The next day, Brown said, Faryniarz reported to work and stretched his legs in the office while waiting for the sluggish computer on his desk to warm up. When he returned to his desk, he found a white powdery substance on top of a piece of brown paper towel lying on his computer keyboard. The word anthrax was misspelled on the paper towel.
Faryniarz alerted DEP security people, who folded the powder in the scrap of paper towel and walked away. Not long after, Faryniarz was summoned to the security office to answer more questions.
Brown said Faryniarz had no idea who put the powder on his desk, or what the powder was. But enroute to the security office, Brown said, a co-worker stopped Faryniarz and "basically begged" him not to implicate him in the hoax. The co-worker, who was not identified in court, told Faryniarz he had a wife and children and could not afford to lose his job.
For the next 48 hours, over a series of interviews with FBI agents, Faryniarz failed to tell authorities about the pleading co-worker. He also gave agents misleading information that could have directed their attention away from the co-worker.
"He failed to tell officers of the true individual's identity and that the substance was not truly a contaminant, namely anthrax," Appleton said in court.
Brown replied in court that Faryniarz never had any idea what the substance was, and still has no firsthand knowledge of who put it on his desk.
Faryniarz was arrested on Oct. 15 and is on paid leave from the DEP, where he has worked for 22 years.
Copyright 2002, Hartford Courant
pleads guilty to charge in anthrax case
By: BEN BENTON
Source: The Daily Post-Athenian
As McMinn County Criminal Court swung into gear for the June session, several pleas were entered in a variety of cases including one which involved the fabrication of an “anthrax” hoax in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks last fall.
Diane Nellie Stafford, 37, of 251 County Road 52, Athens, was first charged with filing a false report, a Class E felony, in October after she and two juveniles appeared at the McMinn County Justice Center bearing a package with a surprise inside.
Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Gary Miller spoke with the trio when they arrived telling police the package contained nude photos of an adult male “and also had another object taped to one of the photos,” Miller stated in the report filed in October.
“Upon removing the object from the photo, officers noticed a white powder falling from inside the object,” Miller stated. “The office area was immediately secured where the package was examined and all three subjects were interviewed.”
During questioning Miller said one of the trio “admitted putting baking soda into aluminum foil and taping it to the picture.”
According to Miller, Stafford and one of the juveniles told detectives they were aware the package contained baking soda and Miller said they additionally admitted the package was affixed to the photo at Stafford’s residence.
“Both stated they wanted the subject who sent the pictures to be charged with sending the powder,” stated Miller. \ During a November preliminary hearing, Miller testified Stafford and the two juveniles came to the Sheriff’s Department Oct. 29 with the package in hand.
The package was in a large shipping envelope which was shown as evidence to General Sessions Judge James Watson during the hearing.
“They presented me with a large package. (Stafford) explained to me that her daughter was sent the pictures and as I was talking to Mrs. Stafford she pointed out that there was another package attached to the back of one of the pictures,” Miller testified.
According to testimony, the photos were sent by a relative from Panama City, Fla., and contained nude photos which upset one of the juveniles who was a relative of the Florida man.
When the package attached to the back of one of the packages was opened with a pocket knife, Miller testified the package “fell off into the floor and white powder came out.”
Miller testified Stafford, the two juveniles and Sheriff’s Department staff were moved out of the area while the site of the powder spill was cordoned off.
After safety measures were taken, Miller testified that Stafford stated to him that the powder was baking soda and the aluminum foil it was wrapped in came from her residence.
Criminal Court Judge Steve Bebb accepted Stafford’s guilty plea Tuesday and sentenced her to one year probation after spending 10 days in jail, and a $300 fine, according to court documents. Stafford was given credit for having already served 14 days in jail.
worker faces trial over powder
Friday, June 07, 2002
By STACEY GAUTIER
PALMER TWP. -- District Justice Ralph Litzenberger on Thursday ordered a 45-year-old U.S. Postal Service employee to stand trial on terroristic threats and disorderly conduct charges.
Lisa Kocher of the 400 block of Briarwood Drive, Bethlehem Township, allegedly put white powder, a traffic citation and a personal check into a suspicious envelope mailed to District Justice Joseph Barner in Bethlehem Township.
Litzenberger dismissed a harassment charge against Kocher.
District court secretary Theresa Stocklas said the envelope, which arrived April 4, caught her attention because it had several upside down American flag stamps and tape around all the edges and was addressed to "Komrade District Justice Officer."
The envelope contained a white substance that "felt granular," and left a granular residue on her fingers, Stocklas said.
The powdery substance did not resemble baking powder, Stocklas testified.
Kocher had told police she put a mixture of baking soda and cigarette ashes into the envelope to mask the smell after her cat had urinated on the citation.
Stocklas gave the suspicious envelope to Barner, who held it up to the light and could "see there was some kind of substance beside papers in there." Barner instructed his secretary to call the Northampton County 911 Center, which then notified Colonial Regional Police.
Colonial Regional Police Detective Charles Horvath said the envelope contained Kocher's personal check, the traffic citation and a white, crystal-like substance. "Bribe for Freedom/Life in Amerika," was written on the check, Horvath said.
Horvath said he sent the substance to a state police laboratory for analysis, and the lab determined the substance was not anthrax.
Late last year, the Postal Service and other mail handlers across the country were gripped in a nationwide panic after powdered anthrax was found in mail sent to federal lawmakers and media outlets.
Kocher is free on 10 percent of $10,000 bail.
Reporter Stacey Gautier can be reached at 610-258-7171 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
man pleads innocent to threatening President Bush
By JAMES BAKER
Portsmouth Bureau Chief
PORTSMOUTH — A Brentwood man indicted by a federal grand jury several months ago for allegedly writing a death threat letter targeting President Bush will stand trial Sept. 3 in U.S. District Court in Concord.
Elijah Peter Wallace, 18, formerly of Old Danville Road, entered a plea of innocence at his arraignment March 20 to one count of threats against the president of the United States.
Wallace, who could face up to five years in prison if convicted, is being held without bail in the Rockingham County House of Corrections pending trial.
The indictment alleges Wallace wrote the letter to Bush from jail Feb. 16 and mailed it to television station WMUR, who forwarded it to the U.S. Secret Service’s Manchester office.
In an excerpt of the letter addressed "To whom it may concern," Wallace allegedly wrote:
"If I had my way I would take a 30 ot (sic) to President Bush’s head at point blank range. He must die, for he has declared war on all antigovernment groups and he is my enemy.
"Blow up 1100 (sic) pennsalvania ave. for fun in the middle of the night. Everything in this pathetic government must be executed."
Wallace initially drew the attention of authorities on Jan. 4, when Fremont police responded to a complaint call from a man alleging someone had broken into a vacant home he owned on Bean Road.
When police arrived at the scene, they found Wallace holed up in a closet armed with a flare gun and two knives.
During questioning, Wallace allegedly told authorities he had recently sent letters containing anthrax to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle at his Washington, D.C., office and to the New Hampshire Division of Motor Vehicles in Concord as well as two other businesses in Kingston and Danville, according to Fremont police.
Wallace then led police to another vacant home on Route 107 in Kingston, where they discovered a bag of white, powdery material that turned out to be drywall, and four sealed letters addressed to Exeter High School, Carriage Town News in Kingston, the Seacoast Learning Collaborative in Kingston, and one to an unnamed individual.
Each letter contained white powder and notes making reference to anthrax, according to the indictments. Wallace was charged with one count of Class A felony burglary, four Class A misdemeanor counts of criminal threatening, and one Class B misdemeanor count of criminal mischief.
Portsmouth Bureau Chief James Baker can be reached at 431-4888, Ext. 5041, or firstname.lastname@example.org
man pleads guilty to sending phony anthrax threat
San Diego Union Tribune & ASSOCIATED PRESS
June 10, 2002
LOS ANGELES – A Northern California man pleaded guilty Monday to sending the IRS a phony anthrax letter during last year's terrorism scare.
Israel Rodriguez, 25, of Richmond entered the plea in federal court to a charge of trying to intimidate an employee of the Internal Revenue Service, according to the U.S. attorney's office.
He faces up to three years in prison when he is sentenced on Sept. 9.
Authorities said Rodriguez sent a letter to an IRS post office box in Los Angeles last Dec. 18. It contained profanity and stated: "I am not paying your ... taxes, you are not getting my money anymore. P.S. Here is anthraxs."
The envelope contained a white powder that turned out to be baking powder.
The FBI and Treasury Department agents traced the letter to Rodriguez.
The incident was one of several anthrax hoaxes in California.
An Oakland man is awaiting trial on a charge of threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction after he allegedly mailed an anthrax hoax letter to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft.
Dean Wilber, 33, was arrested last month. He allegedly sent a threatening letter in December from Wyoming while on a bus trip. The letter contained a white powder that was found to be talcum powder.
The letter caused an anthrax scare at a Cheyenne, Wyo., post office, where it burst during processing. Workers at the facility were treated with antibiotics.
Find this article at: http://www.uniontrib.com/news/state/20020610-1447-ca-anthraxhoax.html
governor's office evacuated in anthrax hoax
By Ray Henry, 6/13/2002
Employees were evacuated yesterday from the governor's office and from the Boston Herald newsroom after they received letters that contained a white powdery substance that the writer claimed was anthrax, authorities said.
The substance proved not to be anthrax or any of the five other hazardous materials that the Fire Department tested it for at the sites, said spokesman Steve MacDonald.
The governor's office letter was
opened by an employee around 9:15 a.m. The office was
The writer claimed to be an inmate at the Suffolk House of Correction, he said.
The second letter was addressed to Boston Herald reporter Tom Mashberg, who opened the envelope in the Herald Square newsroom around 5:30 p.m. and discovered a white powder, employees said. The newsroom was evacuated for a little more than an hour.
While no anthrax cases have been reported this year, the FBI is still investigating the cases from last fall when the Ames strain of the virus was sent through the US mail system, killing five people.
This story ran on page B2 of the Boston Globe on 6/13/2002.
finds white powder in letter
By Scott Fusaro email@example.com
More than half a year after anthrax scares shut down post offices and government buildings, a white powdery substance fell out of an envelope addressed to an elderly Marathon resident Saturday.
The envelope, said Virginia Wallin, who opened it, was a Blue Cross/Blue Shield envelope addressed to her husband, and contained a routine letter from the insurance company.
But when she slit the envelope with a letter opener, a white powder her husband described as "granular" fell onto the table.
"I looked at Bruce and said, ‘What do we do now?’ " said Wallin.
She turned off the fans and covered the powder with a plate so it wouldn’t blow through the room, and called the police.
Monroe County Sheriff’s Office deputies and Marathon Fire Rescue personnel arrived. Clad in masks and gloves, they removed the powder while advising the Wallins to shower with bleach.
"Everybody was absolutely polite and wonderful," said Wallin. "They were all very nice and very polite and very efficient."
Police officials said the substance was turned over to the Monroe County Fire Marshal’s Office to be destroyed, while wondering why the Wallins would receive such a package.
Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Becky Herrin said the Wallins are a "couple that doesn’t have any reason to be a target," and police Capt. Bob Peryam said "the chances of them being a target of a terrorist or biohazard [attack] is slim and none."
Virginia Wallin offered a similar assessment.
"I think it’s just somebody having fun," she said.
Louisiana Daily Leader
Leesville woman pleads guilty to Anthrax hoax
By staff reports
LAFAYETTE -- U.S. Attorney Donald W. Washington announced that Shajuana T. Bell, 23, of Leesville pled guilty to a one count indictment charging her with aiding and abetting in the crime of threatening the use of a weapon of mass destruction.
Bell and Catherine Howard were apprehended for calling the Fort Polk Post Exchange and announcing that Anthrax was in the building. Bell's plea took place in e U.S. District Court before Judge Richard T. Haik. Bell was arrested on Nov. 27 by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Sentencing will take place on a later date.
"This Anthrax hoax frightened everyone involved and caused a massive response by military and civilian authorities," Washington said. "The Fort Polk Post Exchange and its employees suffered through the decontamination and medical treatment processes, and lost significant money and time due to the criminal conduct of these two defendants. These defendants committed a federal crime and exercised extremely poor judgment. They called in the Anthrax threat because they wanted the day off. Maybe next time they'll do what other folks do, call in sick or take a vacation day."
On Oct. 30, a phone call was made to the Post Exchange from an individual who stated that there was Anthrax in the building and that they needed to evacuate. The PX was immediately evacuated and 27 people were decontaminated, sent to a hospital for observation and put on antibiotics as a precautionary measure.
The PX was closed for three days. Subsequent tests revealed there was no Anthrax in the building. The government's response to the hoax and the loss to the PX amounted to approximately $250,000.
The phone call was made by Howard, who pled guilty in May. Bell provided the calling card used to make the call and the phone number to the Fort Polk Post Exchange.
The FBI and Fort Polk Criminal Investigation Division's joint investigation resulted in the criminal complaints against and subsequent arrests of Bell and Howard, both of whom are former employees at the Burger King Express located within the PX.
The maximum punishment Bell may receive is a fine of not more than $250,000, a term of imprisonment up to life in federal prison and a term of supervised release of not more than five years after serving a term of imprisonment. Sentencing in federal court is governed by the United States Sentencing Guidelines and parole has been abolished in the federal system.
The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Lake Charles Resident Agency. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Larry J. Regan.
say woman sent threatening letters:
Messages likely part of domestic dispute
By Mike Goens
FLORENCE - A Rogersville woman was arrested Tuesday and accused of sending letters containing white powder to a Florence lawyer and a bankruptcy judge in Decatur.
Myra Jo Bryant, 43, is expected to undergo a mental examination as a result of the arrest, courthouse officials said Tuesday.
She is charged with mailing threatening communications, a federal offense punishable by five years in prison and a fine.
The arrest came exactly two weeks after the letters were sent to U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jack Caddell and lawyer Michele Hatcher.
Bryant was arrested shortly after federal agents searched her residence at 3991 Lauderdale 26 on Tuesday morning. FBI agents also questioned her.
The letters contained white powder and a threatening message, authorities said June 4, when the letters were discovered.
Although three people in Hatcher's office, including Hatcher, spent a night in Shoals Hospital as a precautionary measure, tests revealed that the powder was not anthrax, as some feared.
The substance has not been verified but will be tested before the case against Bryant goes to court. Authorities say they expect the substance to be identified as some form of rat or plant poison.
FBI agent Don Yarbrough said the investigation quickly focused on Bryant.
He declined to elaborate on evidence linking her to the case.
FBI agents in Florence and Huntsville investigated the case.
Sources said Bryant admitted during the interview with FBI agents that she sent the letters as part of an ongoing dispute with her ex-husband.
Bryant divorced about three years ago and sent the letters in an attempt to get her ex-husband's wife in trouble, the sources said. His current wife has a pending case in bankruptcy court and is represented by Hatcher, who specializes in bankruptcy cases. The sources said Bryant apparently tried to make it appear that her ex-husband's current wife sent the letters to intimidate the judge. Bryant apparently figured that would lead to charges being filed against the woman, which would ultimately clear the way for her to return to her ex-husband.
Attempts to contact Hatcher on Tuesday were unsuccessful.
Her office is in the First Southern Bank Building downtown.
The building was evacuated when the letters were found.
Employees were allowed to return to work the next day, when authorities determined the threat was a hoax.
Courthouse officials said several police reports have been filed during the past three years involving the Bryants.
Most of the complaints involved accusations of harassment.
says he got powdery substance in mail -- and then cold shoulder from officials
By JIM DALGLEISH / H-P City Editor
BENTON HARBOR -- Powder falling from an anonymous letter has put Carvel Roseburgh on edge.
Even more unsettling, the Benton Township man said, is the apparent indifference postal and law enforcement officials have for his predicament.
He said he took the letter, which arrived June 13, to Benton Harbor police, but was told to take it to the Benton Harbor Post Office. He said postal workers told him to take it back to the police department, where officers said they couldn't do anything with it.
From there, he said, he went to the FBI office in St. Joseph. He said the man staffing the office told him there was nothing the agency could do.
He said he then took the letter, which he had sealed in a locking sandwich bag, to the state police post in Bridgman, where he was told nothing could be done there.
"If something is wrong with this letter, why should I have to go through all this trouble?" Roseburgh, 36, said. "It's probably the same thing that happened before (Sept. 11). Nobody took these (possible warnings) seriously."
The letter, addressed to his mother's home in Benton Harbor, comes several months after anthrax-tainted letters were linked to several deaths across the country and forced closure of the U.S. Senate office building.
An anthrax-threat letter to The Herald-Palladium in October brought out the Berrien County Sheriff's Department's hazardous materials team. No contaminants were found at the newspaper, and the FBI investigation turned up no suspects.
Roseburgh's letter was postmarked Santa Ana, Calif., and it contained a newspaper advertisement from the Grand Rapids Press. The advertisement announced new ways to earn money from the federal government.
Attached to the advertisement was a handwritten note saying: "Carvel, you gotta see this - J."
Roseburgh, a meter reader for Aquila Inc., formerly Michigan Gas Utilities, said he knows no one in California or Grand Rapids who goes by "J," or has a name starting with that letter.
As of Tuesday, Roseburgh was reporting no ill effects.
Susan Pfeifer, manager of consumer affairs for the Postal Service's Greater Michigan District in Grand Rapids, said she has seen similar letters in her mail. She said she doesn't recall any powder in the envelopes, but said they included hand-written notes and advertising appeals.
Pfeifer said most post offices are not equipped to handle hazardous materials. It's a job for local authorities, she said.
She said postal workers encourage people who see powder falling from envelopes to immediately put down the letter and call local authorities.
She said the last thing a person should do is carry around a potentially contaminated object. Persons who handle such mail are urged to wash their hands for more than three minutes in soap and water, she said.
FBI Special Agent Dawn Clenney said the agency's policy since last year's anthrax letters is to let local law enforcement handle the initial complaint. If local police find the threat significant, they can then contact the FBI.
State police Lt. Joseph Zangaro, commander of the Bridgman post, said the post's front door has since last fall carried a sign telling visitors to not bring in potentially contaminated mail. State police urge recipients to set down the letters and call local police.
The Berrien County Sheriff's Department offers the same advice, said Sgt. Mike Bradley, coordinator of the Berrien County Sheriff's Department's Emergency Management Division.
He said the department's hazardous materials team is the only agency in Berrien County equipped to handle such letters. However, the local department has to make the initial threat assessment.
Benton Harbor police did not return calls seeking comment.
state man accused of manufacturing biological weapon
Wed Jun 19,10:21 PM ET
By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS, Associated Press Writer
SPOKANE, Washington - A man was arrested for allegedly building a homemade biological weapon with a lethal toxin from the castor plant, the FBI said.
In court papers, FBI agents alleged Wednesday that Kenneth Olsen may have intended to poison his wife with the toxin after having an affair with another woman.
FBI agent Norm Brown said there was no known connection between Olsen and terrorists and there was no sign of a bomb in his house.
Olsen, 47, was allegedly making ricin, a deadly extract of castor beans. Traces of ricin have been found by U.S. troops in Afghanistan at suspected al-Qaida biological weapons sites, Brown said.
Olsen's attorney, John Clark, said his client is innocent of any crime.
"He is a Scout master, active in his church and a computer and Internet hobbyist," Clark said. "I assume that 9-11 has caused the federal government to look at everything as if it was a real threat."
The investigation began after Olsen's co-workers found items at his workstation at the Agilent Technologies Inc. plant indicating he was plotting a homicide, documents showed.
Olsen, who had been fired from the plant in August, was trying to determine how much ricin was needed to kill a 150-pound person, the approximate weight of his wife, court documents said.
Agilent manager also found documents related to ricin, glass jars, test tubes and castor beans, plus cards and letters from a woman named Debra Davis, court documents showed. Davis was interviewed by FBI agents and said they had an affair starting in June 1999 that lasted until they broke up last July.
According to court documents, Olsen admitted searching the Internet for information on explosives and poisons pertaining to Boy Scout projects he was researching.
Ricin is twice as deadly as cobra venom. In very small doses, it causes the human digestive tract to convulse — hence the laxative effect of castor oil. But in larger doses, ricin causes diarrhea so severe that victims can die of shock from massive fluid and electrolyte loss.
June 20, 2002
Last modified at 5:15 p.m. on Thursday, June 20, 2002
© 2002 - The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
Man arrested in Alpine anthrax hoax
ALPINE — The Sul Ross University Police Department and the West Texas Joint Terrorism Task Force announced the arrest Thursday of Richard Villalba Portilla, 43, of Alpine in connection with an anthrax hoax.
Portillo is charged with conveying false information about a crime and making false statements, according to the FBI. If convicted, Portillo faces a maximum punishment of five years imprisonment for each charge.
The arrest was a result of an investigation into an anthrax hoax at Sul Ross in October 2001, the FBI said. An envelope containing a powdery substance was found in a mail slot at the school, prompting deployment of emergency response equipment and personnel.
gets probation for anthrax threat
By Ann McGlynn / QUAD-CITY TIMES
Sat Jun 22 01:04:09 CDT 2002
Eight months after threatening Arsenal Island guards with what he said was a “truck full of anthrax,” Michael Doherty wiped tears from his eyes, expressed regret and faced a stern judge who did not mince words on what he thought about Doherty’s actions.
Michael Doherty, 31, told U.S. District Judge Michael Mihm during his sentencing Friday in U.S. District Court in Rock Island that he was sorry for what he did before he was sentenced to 30 months of probation, including 60 days in a work-release program.
Judge Mihm reminded Doherty of the seriousness of his offense during the sentencing. Even though he will not face time in a federal prison because of the time he spent after his arrest in the Rock Island County Jail and on home confinement, Mihm wanted to at least place Doherty in confinement at the work-release program, he said.
“This was a big deal. This was a very big deal,” Mihm said. “The timing on this could not have been worse.”
Doherty stopped at the visitors center to get a guest pass Oct. 29, during the height of the anthrax scare, and became irritated when a guard asked for his driver’s license, officials said. He allegedly told the guard he “had a truck full of anthrax,” then repeated the statement after being told that his threats were not funny.
The guard issued Doherty a pass and allowed him onto the island, officials say. But the guard later worried the statement may not have been a joke and called Arsenal police. Doherty was stopped and his truck searched. No anthrax was found. He later was arrested by the FBI.
Doherty’s record includes burglary, trespass, marijuana possession and delivery, domestic assault, obstruction of justice, theft and driving on a suspended or revoked license.
In one incident detailed in court Friday, Doherty threatened mall security guards, saying he would bring a machine gun back to the mall after he was detained for disruptive behavior.
Jennifer Gusman, Doherty’s girlfriend, testified that Doherty has been sober, taking his medications and bringing his anger under control since his arrest.
“He’s been a lot more patient with himself and others,” she said.
Doherty’s attorney, George Taseff, requested probation for his client. “Michael had to reach the end of the line,” he said. “This man’s enormous progress should not be interrupted.”
June 30, 2002
Peoria police may have found anthrax
PEORIA -- Police believed they may have found anthrax at a Peoria eyeglass shop Saturday.
A hazardous materials team was called to Eyeglass World on Brandywine around 1:30 p.m. Saturday after workers called the police because seven out of 10 employees felt sick and complained of dizziness.
Police said they were suspicious of a letter received by one of the employees. The letter is on its way to the FBI in Springfield and will be tested for anthrax.
Police also found something in a trash can but would not comment on what was found.
Bites, Not Anthrax
By Indrani Sen
July 3, 2002
Suffolk County Health Department officials yesterday said they were "99 percent sure" the patients treated for brown recluse spider bites at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital did not have cutaneous anthrax.
"I can't say it's 100 percent," said Dr. Patricia Dillon, the department's director of communicable diseases. "I'm never confident enough to say 100 percent. ... But there's no clinical evidence of anthrax, and testing to date [at the hospital] has not indicated any presence of anthrax."
Officials at the Port Jefferson hospital, meanwhile, reaffirmed their diagnoses of the recluse spider bites in five people treated there since May. Some of the cutaneous anthrax cases last fall initially were misdiagnosed as spider bites.
The health department plans to draw blood from the last four patients treated at Mather Memorial and has asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta to test them for anthrax antibodies.
"This is just to be extra-cautious," Dillon said, explaining that her department has had little experience with anthrax. "We're asking for their expertise on whether these people could be tested for convalescent anthrax, just to get rid of that one percent doubt that's in the back of my mind."
Also, Mather officials spoke at a news conference yesterday afternoon in their Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Unit, at which they disagreed with entomologists who say brown recluse spiders do not exist on Long Island. Though no spiders were recovered in any of the cases, doctors showed pictures of brown recluse spider bites and said they closely match the wounds they have seen recently. In anthrax cases, they said, the wound has a hard covering, which was not found in any of the five cases.
"I would say the odds of it being anthrax are exceedingly low," said Dr. Kenneth Hirsch, an emergency room physician and assistant director of the hyperbaric unit, adding that routine blood cultures done for the patients did not show the presence of any bacteria, as there would have been if anthrax was present.
Two of the hospital's patients said they were just glad they're doing better. Achille Gabriellini, 43, of Mastic said something - he's not sure what - attacked his left thigh.
Gabriellini first noticed the lump last Tuesday. At first he thought his fever was sun-poisoning from being out over the weekend. Last Wednesday, he came to Mather feverish and disoriented.
"I was in pretty bad shape," he said.
The wound is now almost entirely healed.
John King, 43, a letter carrier
from Moriches, first noticed what he thought was a mosquito bite behind
his right knee on May 11. A day later, it had become an open wound the
size of a nickel. The following morning, it was the size of a quarter,
he had a fever, he couldn't walk and the pain had gone to his groin. He
was admitted to Mather and stayed there seven days, getting
"I don't know if mine was a brown recluse, but it was definitely something," he said. "Something's out there. It's scary."
Copyright © 2002, Newsday, Inc.
NO ONE EVER BELIEVED STEPHEN MICHAEL LONG,PERHAPS THEY SHOULD HAVE LISTENED.
The seeds of mistrust were planted early in Stephen Michael Long, the 37-year-old Rayne man accused of mailing more than 200 letters in April containing bomb threats and a white powder that turned out to be baby powder, not anthrax.
Long claims he was molested at age 11 by a Houma karate instructor in 1976 and that his life has spiraled out of control ever since.
"I would consider the first 10 years of my life as very normal," he wrote in an 83-page autobiography in the late 1980s.
Long wrote often about being raped by his instructor, about suffering guilt over a girlfriend's abortion, about fears that Long the victim might become Long the perpetrator. And, almost without fail, the doctors and lawyers who interviewed him over the years believed little, if anything, of his unwieldy tales.
He also claims that while being treated for depression and suicidal tendencies stemming from the '76 rape, he was molested again - this time at a mental health facility in Acadiana.
Neither of the alleged molestations were ever prosecuted. But one thing is certain: Stephen Michael Long, the former Michael Brunet, did come into contact with a man named Wayne Hunt in late July of 1976, when Brunet was 11.
According to a lawsuit filed in 1977 against Hunt's employer, the Terrebonne Parish Parks Department, Brunet was raped by Hunt on a boat named the Sandpiper that was moored behind a pool hall on the Intercoastal Canal. Days later, Brunet's good friend from Lacache Middle School in Chauvin was also raped by Hunt, according to the lawsuit.
Brunet's family went to the sheriff days after their son told them of the molestation, according to the lawsuit. But investigators did not believe him and Hunt was never interviewed, let alone arrested or prosecuted.
At the time of the complaint, Hunt, then 30 years old, was on probation for sex abuse involving a minor in Sacramento, Calif. He had already been arrested at least nine times and convicted three times.
His subpoena to show up for court in the case stemming from his alleged abuse of Long was mailed to a federal prison in Atlanta, where Hunt was serving time on an unrelated kidnapping charge (Hunt was convicted in 1977 of taking a Louisiana boy across state lines into Illinois).
Today, Hunt, 55, is serving a maximum of 25 years at Orleans Correctional Facility in Albion, N.Y., about an hour north of Buffalo. His current sentence stems from 20 convictions, including nine for sodomy and two for kidnapping.
The Brunet's $225,000 lawsuit against the parks department, the sheriff and the parish coroner was settled in 1981 for $10,000.
Defense attorneys claimed Brunet's parents were "contributorily negligent" because they allowed their son to "stay out all hours of the night" with Hunt. They also suggested that young Michael was partially responsible for the rape of his friend because he failed to immediately report his encounter with Hunt.
A Dark Journey
In the 20 years that have since passed, doctors have diagnosed Stephen Michael Long as suffering from anxiety and depression, experiencing psychotic and neurotic tendencies and enduring fits of paranoia. There is little indication in medical records that they believed Long had actually been molested.
For years, Long has stuttered and experienced such nervousness that he recalls his hair falling out in clumps.
At one point, his mental anguish was so debilitating, he says he forgot how to read.
"I lost the ability to read and write for a long time and I gradually started teaching myself again," he wrote.
The mother of his childhood friend who was allegedly raped by Hunt says Long was a deeply troubled young man.
"He was a very nervous kind of little boy - fearful of everything," said the woman, who spoke with The Times on the condition that she remain anonymous.
"My son is doing fine. He's got a great job, a great family. I don't want him to have to relive this all over again," she says.
The woman says Long's mother, Shirley Faye, was constantly talking about how she wanted revenge against the sheriff and the doctors for not taking her son's abuse complaint seriously. Long's mother, now divorced and using her maiden name, Jones, would not comment for this story.
The woman says Michael Brunet stuttered when she first met him shortly after the alleged rapes took place.
"A fear would come to him and he would stutter," she says
When told of the current charges facing Long, she says, "I just feel sorry for him, I really do. I think he was living a fantasy of revenge."
Later, Long would tell one of his physicians that he had memories of possibly molesting a child, then claims to have told doctors the child's name, where and when it happened. It's unclear if any molestation occurred or if authorities ever followed up with his story. Prior to his arrest earlier this month, Long had never been arrested in Lafayette or Terrebonne parish.
As a young adult, Long struggled to gain independence from his mother, whom he described in court documents as overbearing and manipulative.
By his own admission, and by numerous doctors' observations, Long wrestled with his sexual orientation at an early age, struggling with the possibility that he might be gay or bisexual. In the mid to late 1980s, he hung around the gay scene in Lafayette and reports having a boyfriend with whom he shared an apartment.
Sometime around 1983, Long met Jordan Henry, a Lafayette man, at Frank's, a popular Downtown gay bar. Henry, who now is an ordained minister and heads up a nondenominational gay church, says Long was very insecure, often depressed and in need of constant reassurance. But he also describes him as quite intelligent, thoughtful and hard-working.
"He wanted to be a lawyer," Henry says, adding that his room was always flush with law books and reams of papers.
When Henry met him, Long was living with his mother and brother across the street from the Lafayette Parish Library and just beginning to explore the gay scene. Long asked Henry to introduce him around the community.
"They didn't accept him," says Henry. "He was weird."
Long was skittish, says Henry, adding that he often embellished the truth, sometimes to the point that his stories seemed unbelievable.
"He puts a bit of the truth, and a bit of a lie, and makes it legend," Henry says.
Henry remembers one other thing about Long.
"He was always bitching about doctors," Henry says. "Always angry at someone. He was never violent, but you could just feel the rage. I could always tell there was an underlying resentment."
Harboring Ill Feelings
In court documents, Long voiced resentment toward doctors and lawyers, law enforcement and the government. And his mother.
Long says he began to stutter soon after Hunt molested him, but doctors who examined him in the mid 1980s repeatedly noted that the stuttering peaked when he was discussing his relationship troubles with his mother.
In one medical entry, a doctor wrote that Long complained his mother "tried to manipulate him with her illness" and that he was looking into moving into a dormitory on campus.
Yet it appears the independence Long so eagerly sought often turned out to be just as problematic as his relationship with his mother. Long was hospitalized at least four times in his late teens and early 20s with anxiety disorders and complained frequently about being unable to handle the pressure of school, work and a rocky relationship with a girlfriend he met in high school.
Sometime in the early 1980s, Long quit high school and went to a trade school to become a bookkeeper. He later earned a GED and attended University of Southwest Louisiana, first to study computer science, later to major in criminal justice. He received a degree in 1990.
Between 1983 and 1985, Long was hospitalized four times for psychological problems and treated on an outpatient basis more than 40 times.
Henry says he would lose contact with Long for months at a time, but never knew of his hospitalizations.
Suffering Started Early
It appears Long was first hospitalized as early as 1978 when he was 13 years old. Doctors said he was experiencing an "anxious reaction to adolescence" and was plagued with paranoia.
He wrote often of struggling to make friends and meet people. As a teenager and into his early 20s, he worked several jobs at fast food restaurants, including stints at Popeyes and El Torito's in Lafayette.
His parents, Tom and Shirley Brunet, separated in 1981 when he was 16. Shirley took Michael, and his brother, James, to Bastrop, then to Lafayette, while Tom remained in Chauvin and later remarried.
Long told doctors he felt like he was recovering from his earlier sexual abuse, but that their breakup brought on another bout of depression. A year later, doctors said Long experienced "a psychotic break with reality," though details were not available.
In 1983, Dr. W.A. Hawkins said that "under enough stress, this individual could easily become psychotic again" and recommended chemotherapy and long-term psychotherapy.
That was the year Long told a doctor he had memories of possibly molesting a child. He was prescribed Vistaril, an anti-anxiety medication.
Over the years, Long told several doctors he was fearful "of being around" children. "I had a fear of me attacking children," he told one doctor in 1985. "I just couldn't understand what would make someone do what they did to me. I was scared. I was just scared that I would black out and do something like that."
In 1984, Long told doctors he would often get extremely jealous of his girlfriend and suspected she was cheating on him. He said he sought help because he was "afraid he would hurt her." That same year doctors deemed him suicidal.
That year, Long entered USL and shared an apartment with his girlfriend. In 1985, according to Long, his girlfriend got pregnant. She decided to have an abortion, a decision that Long says plagued him for some time.
"She did it without telling him," says Henry, who met Long's girlfriend a couple of times.
Long claims to have been wracked with guilt over the decision and said he experienced nightmares - or as doctors described it, "fleeting hallucinations" - of "a deceased baby coming to him." Soon after the abortion, the couple split and Long became deeply depressed. He was hospitalized, at his own request, after experiencing "suicidal and homicidal" feelings, doctors noted.
In 1986, Michael Brunet changed his name to Stephen Michael Long, after the man he says fathered him - Huey P. Long. He says this Huey P. Long is not the famed former governor, but a Lafayette man born in 1932.
Long makes no mention, at least in public records, of why he chose to erase the name of the man who adopted him as a 4-year-old.
It would be years before a coterie of Lafayette attorneys would come to know Stephen Michael Long.
Elicits Threats from Long
In 1988, at the age of 24, Long filed his first of two medical malpractice suits against Acadiana mental health institutions. Long alleged in the lawsuits that doctors repeatedly misdiagnosed him and gave him the wrong medication. He complained also about mental health physicians releasing "confidential information" to physicians to whom it was not relevant.
In an 83-page document, which he entered into the 1988 lawsuit's file, Long predicted a dangerous future for himself.
The document, which he titled, "David v. Goliath Once Again," starts out with a promise that Long will become "one of the most dynamic, untrackable serial killers or terrorists" of all time, then spirals into a redundant lament about his physical and mental illness, doctors who were constantly failing him, lawyers who were trying to defeat him and several other authority figures who Long blamed for his problems.
He wrote that he respects only serial killers and terrorists, such as Henry Lee Lucas, the famed serial killer of the 1970s and 1980s who confessed to hundreds of murders.
Gary McGoffin, a lawyer for the defense in the 1988 suit, described Long as seriously disturbed.
"All of us knew that he was a deeply troubled young man," McGoffin says today. "We were considering talking to his mother about having him committed."
The lawyers were so disturbed by Long's behavior that they brought Mace canisters to the conference room where they deposed Long - "so if he ever did anything we'd be ready," McGoffin says. The attorneys also hired a bodyguard, whom they identified to Long as a fellow attorney, to sit beside Long in case he tried to hurt anyone, McGoffin says.
Long represented himself in both suits. Though they were both dismissed, a lawyer for the defense complimented him on his articulate and thorough work, asking if he had secured help from an attorney in drafting the papers.
It would be more than 10 years before McGoffin ever saw or heard of Long again. But not long enough for him to forget the troubled person now believed to be behind the 200-plus menacing missives mailed in April.
"When I saw the picture in the paper, I was convinced that they had the right guy," says McGoffin.
Awaiting a Court Date
Long was arrested June 20, after a series of e-mails he sent to CNN and KLFY news anchor Blue Rolfes helped authorities track him down. In those e-mails, Long threatened Fire Chief Robert Benoit and FBI Supervisory Agent Rick McHenry.
Benoit says Long never contacted him directly and can only assume that he was targeted simply as the head officer of the unit that was investigating an arson at Long's Duson Street residence.
Last week, federal judge Michael Hill ruled that Long would be held without bail, saying he was a flight risk and a risk to society.
His mother, brother, and wife - Cindy LeDay, whom he married in 1998 - spoke on his behalf, but to no avail.
Long faces 78 charges, including multiple counts of transmitting threats in interstate commerce, sending threatening communications through the U.S. mail and threatening to use weapons of mass destruction. He could face life in prison. A court date has not been set.
Long's attorney David Willard has not commented on whether he would use the insanity defense to keep Long from prison.
Henry says he can understand what would cause Long to act out, but says that doesn't remove his responsibility from the act. He wishes that more people would have just listened to him.
"He was telling the truth," Henry says. "And nobody ever believed him."
Louis Rom is public life editor for The Times. Phone him at 237-3560, ext. 118, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
July 10, 2002
Man pleads guilty to using Ajax in anthrax 'joke'
PECOS (AP) - A Sul Ross State University employee has admitted responsibility for an anthrax hoax at the school last year that started when a Halloween prank using Ajax cleanser got out of hand.
Richard Villalba Portillo pleaded guilty in a U.S. District Court in Pecos on Monday to two charges of making false statements about the prank, the Pecos Enterprise reported in its Tuesday editions.
The maximum sentence for each charge is five years in prison. However, Portillo's guilty plea was part of an agreement that would require him to submit to the maximum amount of probation in lieu of jail time. He has not yet been sentenced.
Portillo was arrested in June after being notified that he had failed a lie detector test. He had denied knowledge of the incident in a previous interview with an FBI agent.
According to court records and an FBI report, Portillo, wearing work gloves, joked with the school's building maintenance supervisor on Oct. 31 about being the "anthrax inspector."
After the conversation, Portillo grabbed an envelope from the mailroom and went to a nearby dormitory where he placed some Ajax into the envelope. He then put it back in the mail room.
Victor Romero, Sul Ross supervisor of General Services, found the envelope and the Alpine Volunteer Fire Department was called to the scene.
University police investigated the incident and the FBI was called in to investigate the possibility that the material was anthrax. Laboratory tests showed the material wasn't toxic.
The hoax came after anthrax incidents in Florida and the northeast, which resulted in the deaths of five people and the closing of several buildings, including a Senate office building and the main U.S. Postal Service facility in Washington D.C.
Found Guilty in Anthrax Hoax
Sat Jul 13,12:55 PM ET
SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) - A Pennsylvania woman has been convicted of trying to mail anthrax hoax letters to government officials, including President Bush, at the height of last fall's anthrax scare.
The hoax letters, which authorities say actually contained cornstarch, forced the closure of a post office in Nanticoke for several hours on Oct. 25. They also halted operations in the mail room at the Luzerne County Courthouse.
Rosemary Zavrel, 58, of Pittston, was convicted by a jury Friday of mailing threatening letters, aiding and abetting in mailing threatening letters and making false statements to the police.
Authorities said she and her former roommate, Emily Forman, mailed 17 letters filled with cornstarch to Bush, local judges and other authorities in an attempt to frame two teens who allegedly picked on Zavrel's son.
The envelopes were marked with the return addresses of the two boys, authorities said.
Forman pleaded guilty in February to taking part in the crime. Zavrel is to be sentenced Oct. 10; the maximum sentence for each charge is five years in prison.
"The letters in this case were no joke. In that time in our history, each one of those letters was an evil, malicious threat," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Garganus said.
Five people died and more than a dozen were sickened last fall after someone sent anthrax-laced letters through the mail to politicians and news organizations. No arrests have been made.
convicted for cornstarch in envelope
By JERRY BIER
FRESNO -- If you pay a traffic ticket by mailing your check with a little dab of cornstarch, can you be charged with sending a threatening communication?
Federal prosecutors say you can if it was at the height of the post-Sept. 11 national anthrax scare.
And a federal judge agreed Friday, convicting 36-year-old Bret Raymer of Modesto on one felony count of mailing a threatening communication.
The envelope arrived at the Modesto parking citations office in early November. Inside was Raymer's $15 fine and some cornstarch, authorities said, though no one knew what it was at the time.
An employee told authorities that when the powdery substance fell out of the envelope, she thought it was anthrax and "felt like she was going to have a heart attack and that she could not stop shaking."
Modesto police tracked down Raymer, and he said he was upset over getting the ticket, Detective Dodge Hendee said.
After being convicted in U.S. District Court here, Raymer went against his attorney's advice and spoke with a reporter. Raymer repeated his earlier comments that he is "more than sorry. I'm feeling really stupid."
Judge Robert E. Coyle decided the case quickly. Raymer agreed to a court trial, in which the judge and not a jury decides guilt or innocence.
In his ruling, Coyle cited his earlier refusal to throw the case out of court. Raymer argued then that he should not have been charged with mailing a threatening communication because the indictment against him did not allege a written threat and the envelope was not addressed to a specific person.
Coyle agreed with prosecutors that "a reasonable recipient, receiving a letter containing a powdery substance during the nationwide anthrax scare, would interpret the communication as a threat."
The judge also agreed that the person who opened the envelope was the one who was threatened.
"The defendant should not be able to avoid prosecution for sending that envelope simply because the envelope was addressed to a municipality, instead of an actual 'person,'" Coyle said.
Marc C. Ament, an assistant federal defender representing Raymer, said he will file an appeal after Raymer's sentencing, scheduled for Sept. 30, and added that the case will become a test case.
The crime is punishable by a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The U.S. attorney's office in Fresno is prosecuting two other anthrax-hoax cases from last fall. Both of those involve envelopes marked with threats or the word "anthrax" on the outside.
Posted on 07/14/02
Tuesday, 16 July, 2002, 10:20 GMT 11:20 UK
Former teacher jailed for anthrax hoax
A former chemistry teacher who sent hoax anthrax mail to the Welsh First Minister Rhodri Morgan has been jailed for two-and-a-half years.
Nicholas Roberts, 50, posted four packages containing white powder at the height of the anthrax scares following last September's terrorist attacks in the US.
As well as Rhodri Morgan, the chemistry graduate posted one of the envelopes containing white flour to Welsh travel writer Jan Morris.
In February, unemployed Roberts, from the Riverside area of Cardiff, was found guilty of attempting to cause a public nuisance by sending packages to public figures.
The bachelor, who has an earlier conviction for throwing eggs at the Queen's car during a royal visit, had claimed the packages were works of "conceptual art" which would benefit society.
Sentencing had been delayed while the courts awaited psychiatric reports on Roberts, who it has been established is not suffering from mental illness.
Jailing him at Cardiff Crown Court, Judge John Griffith QC said: "In light of the events of September 11, your actions demonstrate wickedness of the highest order.
"The anxiety you caused was considerable...your intention was to cause each recipient to believe the packages contained anthrax."
The judge said the 30-month sentence was to make it clear to Roberts and others that "offences of this type will not be tolerated".
The hoax letters were sent in the wake of the terror attacks on the World Trade Center and Washington, and sparked a major security alert in Cardiff, both at the Welsh Assembly building and the city's main postal sorting office.
Prosecuting Peter Murphy said Roberts had read an article by (Jan) Morris which criticised Rhodri Morgan, saying the First Minister had done nothing for Wales.
"Roberts agreed with this and that is why he sent the flour. He didn't know why he sent the letter to Jan Morris - but said he found the hoax funny."
Eventually, after having second thoughts, Roberts raised the alarm himself, the court heard.
A major security alert was then put into operation, despite Roberts telling police the letters - which also went to two of his friends - only contained flour.
Defending, Peter Heywood said the courts had to view the offences seriously because of their timing.
"Prison holds no fears for Roberts.
"It is an environment where he has company and friendship - something he is lacking on this side of the prison wall."
Roberts has a previous conviction for throwing four eggs at the Queen's car during a Royal visit three years ago.
He also had convictions for spraying road signs with black paint because they were written in English and not in Welsh.
Arrest Man For Anthrax Hoax
Tue Jul 23, 4:55 PM ET
A Coral Gables man who police say plotted an anthrax hoax to cause trouble for an ex-girlfriend is under arrest, according to information released by police Tuesday.
Investigators say that in October 2001, Stephen Milberg mailed three envelopes containing white powder and a threatening note to his attorney Brian Bieber; his own father, Robert Reiter; and to himself.
When Bieber received the envelope, police evacuated his office building and fire rescue personnel from Coral Gables, and the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Hazardous Materials team were called. Thirteen police officers and three fire department trucks were kept at the scene for three hours. Building managers closed the 10-story office building for four days while a state laboratory tested the suspicious substance. Hundreds of office workers were sent home and dozens of businesses were sealed and closed.
Coral Gables police working with U. S. postal inspectors investigated this case and identified Milberg as being the person responsible for mailing the threatening letters and the purported anthrax.
Milberg surrendered to authorities in April, and is awaiting trial in Fort Lauderdale.
Milberg is charged with mailing threatening communications and making false statements to police and postal inspectors. If he is found guilty, in addition to whatever sentence he receives, Coral Gables law enforcement says it will seek reimbursement for investigative costs.
letter sent to mother
A POISON PEN letter containing an anthrax warning was sent to a pregnant woman in Warminster sparking a major security alert.
The young mother, who has not been identified by police, was taken with her 18-month-old child to the Royal United Hospital in Bath, where they were tested for traces of anthrax poisoning.
The area surrounding Brook Street was sealed of by police officers at 2pm on Thursday, July25, minutes after the heavily pregnant woman telephoned the emergency services.
Residents living in the quiet neighbourhood were evacuated from their homes as a safety precaution.
Police investigators examined the letter and home of the victim but found no traces of the deadly substance.
Anthrax scares have been rife in the UK since Middle-Eastern terrorist groups carried out genuine attacks in the USA using the chemical last year.
July 29, 2002 11:51PM EDT
Anthrax hoaxer gets 10-month sentence
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) - A man who mailed letters threatening to use anthrax against government agencies was sentenced Monday to 10 months in prison.
Amir Omerovic, 28, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Bosnia, had faced up to five years in prison after pleading guilty in U.S. District Court in February.
After serving his term, Omerovic will be confined to his home for six months and placed on supervision that will include mental health treatment, Judge Alan Nevas ordered.
Federal prosecutors said Omerovic mailed letters in October to Gov. John Rowland, the Coast Guard, Marine Corps and other public agencies in Connecticut. The letters referred to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"This is only the beginning," the letters said. "Americans will die. Death to America and Israel."
The letters did not contain anthrax or any other substance.
Federal officials said there was no evidence that Omerovic had access to anthrax.
anthrax at food pantry
By TAMMY WILKINSON Of The Star Courier
KEWANEE - It's business as usual at the Kewanee Food Pantry.
Kewanee Fire Chief Tom Weston reported that personnel and volunteers were given permission Friday afternoon to resume duties after the facility was forced to close last week.
The site had been secured following a possible hazardous contamination scare when an unknown "powdery substance" was found inside a mailed envelope. Weston said test results came back negative.
"The tests determined exactly what we hoped for, that there was no sign of any type of bacteria present," said Weston.
Tests did not identify the samples which were examined at an Illinois Department of Public Health lab in Springfield.
At the time of the discovery, the Kewanee Fire Department declared the building and two workers who had come in contact with the substance as being contaminated.
A plan to decontaminate the area and personnel was followed by the firefighters.
"This incident proved to be a good exercise and learning tool for our department," said Weston. "Not knowing exactly what we were dealing with put a different type of pressure on the guys in comparison to a normal training exercise. It was the fact of not knowing exactly what we were dealing with that proved to be a beneficial tool to us."
Food pantry staff was back hard at work Friday, with the expected arrival of two truckloads of food.
August 4, 2002
Woman sentenced to jail for anthrax hoaxes in Jasper County
By the Associated Press
BEAUMONT, Texas (AP) -- A 24-year-old woman has been sentenced to 16 months in prison for sending envelopes that contained powder to a paper mill where she was a temporary employee.
U.S. District Judge Richard Schell last week also sentenced Samantha Rogers, 24, to five years probation and to a mental health treatment program for threatening use of a weapon of mass destruction.
She will also be required to pay restitution, the amount of which will be determined at a hearing Aug. 16.
Last October, Rogers, of Rose City near Beaumont, was a temporary employee at Westvaco, a paper mill in southern Jasper County. Authorities said a blank envelope containing what tests later showed to be coffee creamer arrived at the mill on Oct. 17. Two days later another blank envelope containing what was determined to be sugar arrived at the mill.
Two mill employees were treated for anthrax in connection with the first envelope, but no one was hurt in either incident.
jokester cuts one-year deal
By Jerry Bier
If he behaves himself for a year -- not sending his mother birthday cards with "ANTHRAX" written on the envelope, for instance -- Michael Christopher Murphy could wipe his criminal record clean.
Murphy, 20, appeared in federal court Wednesday and agreed to a deferred-prosecution deal in which he will perform 120 hours of community service, obey all laws and meet other conditions set by a pretrial officer.
If he completes the year successfully, the government will drop charges that Murphy -- a tall, thin young man with a shock of brown hair -- knowingly sent a threat through the mail, a crime punishable by as long as five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Except to answer "yes" or "yes, ma'am" to U.S. Magistrate Judge Sandra M. Snyder's questions about whether he understood terms of the deal, Murphy said nothing during the hearing.
Outside the courtroom, he refused to comment, as did his father, Mark Murphy of Reedley, and his Fresno lawyer, Jeffrey A. Jaech.
In October, at the height of the anthrax scare, Murphy, in what he told FBI agents was a "joke," became the focus of attention after he addressed a birthday card to his mother in Reedley, included a sand dollar and mailed it -- with the word "ANTHRAX" scrawled in tiny letters on the back of the envelope.
The U.S. Attorney's Office filed a criminal complaint charging him in an incident that resulted in the closure of the Reedley post office while a hazardous materials team searched for evidence of the dangerous anthrax bacteria.
Dozens of people were quarantined while the FBI took control of the envelope, which was leaking a granular substance that turned out to be beach sand.
The case took months to resolve while authorities struggled to conclude a complaint they said involved a very naive young man and a crime that federal agents did not think was funny.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan B. Conklin told Snyder that the case was "highly unusual" and involved a defendant at a "very young age" who had mailed a "birthday card he intended for no one other than his mother."
Snyder told Murphy, who remained free on his own recognizance throughout his ordeal, that "a year is an awful long time" and he should remain mindful of the conditions being imposed on him.
"If there are any glitches, if anything goes wrong, you understand you can be brought back before the court?" Snyder asked.
"Yes, ma'am," answered Murphy, dressed in slacks and a long-sleeved shirt and tie.
Snyder continued the matter to Aug. 8, 2003, for final disposition.
Outside the courtroom, Conklin said the government felt the resolution was appropriate, given Murphy's "young age and total lack of any prior criminal history."
Murphy's was one of three "hoax" cases filed in U.S. District Court in Fresno last year.
In one other case a Modesto man, convicted after a court trial, plans to appeal arguing that no anthrax was actually sent in an envelope, which contained cornstarch, that he used to pay a parking citation.
In the other case, a Santa Maria man is undergoing psychiatric evaluation involving threatening letters he sent to the Internal Revenue Service center in Fresno.
The reporter can be reached at email@example.com or 441-6484.
hoaxer gets 35-month prison term
By Aamer Madhani
August 8, 2002, 3:45 PM CDT
A 23-year-old former junior college student from DeKalb was sentenced to 35 months in a federal prison today for an anthrax hoax that shut down Kishwaukee College for half a day in January.
"After Sept. 11, these types of pranks or hoaxes have to be treated seriously," Assistant U.S. Atty. John G. McKenzie said of the sentence handed down to Timothy V. Kato in U.S. District Court, Rockford.
Kato admitted he prepared two letters containing a powdery substance and indicating the recipients had been exposed to anthrax, authorities said. Kato then hand-delivered the letters to two professors' mailboxes on the Kishwaukee campus in Malta, Ill., on Dec. 21.
The school was on break at the time, and a business professor who had given Kato a failing grade didn't discovered his letter until Jan. 7, prosecutors said. The other letter was discovered Jan. 11 by a science professor from whose class Kato had withdrawn.
After the discovery of the first letter, college officials evacuated the campus --halting class registration and work on a campus construction project.
The powdery substance was determined to be sand, and the FBI traced the letters back to Kato, authorities said.
Kato indicated to investigators the first letter was in retaliation for the failing grade, and the second letter was intended to be a joke, McKenzie said.
U.S. District Judge Phillip G. Reinhard also ordered Kato to pay more than $25,000 total in restitution to the college and to the construction company for its lost hours of work.
"As an institution, we're satisfied with the sentence," said David Louis, president of Kishwaukee. "A message needs to be sent that this type of action will be taken seriously. At the same time, I hope this sentence isn't so long that Mr. Kato can't still have a life when he gets out."
Copyright © 2002, Chicago Tribune
Anthrax Mailer Gets 19 Years
Thu Aug 15, 5:44 PM ET
By LISA CORNWELL, Associated Press Writer
CINCINNATI (AP) - A man who admitted mailing fake anthrax letters to abortion clinics was sentenced Thursday to 19 years and seven months in prison on firearms and theft charges.
U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott ordered Clayton Waagner to serve the term after completing a 30-year sentence in Illinois on escape and other charges. Waagner said he would appeal.
"I'm not remorseful," he told the judge. "I'm not begging for forgiveness for what I did, because I thought it was right."
Waagner, 45, of Kennerdell, Pa., was arrested at a copy shop in suburban Springdale on Dec. 5, about 10 months after he escaped from a jail in Illinois.
He was convicted of illegally possessing a handgun and a rifle; possessing a stolen handgun; and possessing a stolen car. Authorities said they arrested him in a stolen car with about $9,000 in his pocket, a loaded, .40-caliber handgun and several fake IDs.
Kelly Johnson, a public defender advising Waagner, argued for a lesser sentence, saying Waagner wasn't convicted of violent crimes.
Federal authorities have said that Waagner claimed responsibility for sending more than 550 letters filled with powder to about 280 women's reproductive health clinics in October and November, at the height of the nation's anthrax scare.
Waagner had faced from 15 years in prison to life without parole and a $250,000 fine on each count.
He also faces federal bank robbery charges in Pennsylvania and West Virginia and charges of car theft in Mississippi and possession of a pipe bomb in Tennessee.
City man convicted for sending anthrax hoaxes to Bush, Wise
Chris Stirewalt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Friday August 16, 2002; 12:45 AM
A Charleston man who prosecutors say was driven by romantic frustration to mail anthrax hoax letters to President Bush as well as state and local officials is facing a minimum of 16 years behind bars.
Edward Lee Lewis, 35, was convicted Thursday in Charleston federal court of five counts of mailing threatening letters and of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
U.S. Attorney Kasey Warner, who handled the prosecution himself, said today that when Lewis' girlfriend left him late last year, it sent the ex-con into a tailspin that led him to desperate measures to win her back and eventually to try to punish her for leaving.
"When she left him, he basically became a stalker," Warner said. "He had become obsessed with her and decided that this was the way to get back at her. He figured he could take advantage of a national crisis for his own benefit."
Using a typewriter to put his former girlfriend's return address on the letters and a photocopied section of a letter the woman had sent him breaking off their relationship, Lewis attempted to frame her for the crime.
Lewis sent white powder, which Warner said was likely a combination of talcum powder, Drano and other ingredients, to Bush, Gov. Bob Wise, Chief U.S. District Judge Charles Haden and Kanawha Circuit Court Judge Charlie King.
"He took what was essentially a ‘Dear John' letter and turned it into the weapon against her," Warner said.
Lewis mailed his letters in January, at the height of the national anthrax letter scare that occurred when real anthrax spores were sent to national figures including Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw.
During the time of high tension, when ordinary citizens were stocking up on Cipro and all mail was being treated as a potential weapon, Lewis' letter to Bush was detected at the U.S. Postal Service's sorting center on Corridor G.
By the time Lewis' letter to Bush was spotted, though, his mailings to Wise, Haden and King already were in route. As was another similar letter sent to one of his neighbors.
When the letter arrived at Wise's office, it prompted the evacuation of a wing of the Capitol and a shutdown of government mail circulation.
Mail screening procedures at the state and federal courthouses intercepted the letters before the reached Haden and King.
Warner said when investigators got to the woman whose address was on the letters, she immediately recognized the section of the letter she had sent Lewis and directed them to where they could find him.
"It seems that he still thought she loved him -- that she wouldn't turn him in or cooperate," Warner said. "But she was scared of him more than anything else and wanted to help us put a stop to his abuse."
Authorities found two typewriters in Lewis' truck as well as the breakup letter his girlfriend had sent him with the relevant portion cut out, and photocopies of that section of the letter. They also found a 12-gauge shotgun in the vehicle.
Warner said Lewis had indicated to some family members that he planned to flee across the Canadian border.
While Lewis was in jail awaiting trial he scraped mortar from between bricks in his cell to create powder and asked another inmate to mail the letters for him. The other inmate turned him in to jail officials. Warner said it was an attempt to cover up his own behavior.
"He wanted to come to trial and wave these letters around and say that he couldn't have sent them while he was in jail, so there must have been someone else," Warner said. "That didn't work for him either."
Writer Chris Stirewalt
can be reached at 348-4824.
published Aug 22, 2002
Jury acquits in anthrax hoax trial
FORT MYERS -- A Lehigh Acres man who was arrested after sprinkling white powder on his best friend's mail was acquitted of using a hoax weapon of mass destruction.
Earl W. Beaird, 47, was jailed Oct. 30, a day after he put the powder in the mailbox of his friend and next-door neighbor, Steven Vander Hyden. He said it was meant as a joke.
The incident came at the height of the anthrax scare that shook the nation and prompted sheriff's deputies and firefighters to rush to the house and seal off the area. Beaird told investigators he was joking, but the state attorney's office charged him with a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
On the witness stand, Beaird said he never intended the powder to be taken as anthrax. He said the joke was inspired by Steven Vander Hyden's habit of using a lot of talcum powder.
Vander Hyden testified that he didn't report the incident until the day after it happened and was never frightened by the powder. Jurors deliberated about an hour before deciding.
arrested over fake anthrax letters
23 August 2002
MUNICH — German police have arrested two men who mailed 128 letters allegedly containing anthrax to addresses throughout the country, prosecutors in Munich said Friday.
The men, aged 51 and 57, were arrested in Frankfurt by police investigating letters which began appearing from December 4 at media offices, various local authorities and private addresses.
The letters containing a white powder which turned out to be harmless caused widespread disruption and a huge police operation.
They began appearing in the post some two months after the terror attacks in New York and Washington, imitating a spate of letters containing the anthrax bacteria sent in the United States.
One of the men has admitted sending the letters "out of boredom", prosecutors said.
The arrests were made earlier this month, but only made public Friday. They came after investigations revealed that some recipients of the letters had received pornographic material in the post from the two men in 1995 and 1996.
gets max for anthrax threat
He forced evacuation of court to avoid theft charges hearing.
Tuesday, August 27, 2002
By JIMMY P. MILLER
ALLENTOWN -- In the two months following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Robert Larry Jacoby Jr. phoned in three fake bomb and anthrax scares to the Lehigh County Courthouse.
On Monday, a judge gave him what could amount to nearly three decades to think that over.
Jacoby will spend 10 to 27 years in state prison for calling in the scares in October and December 2001, a judge decided.
Jacoby, 38, of the 600 block of Kiowa Street, pleaded guilty recently to three counts each of making terroristic threats and making bomb threats. The sentence also includes multiple counts of theft, forgery and receiving stolen property for two separate 2001 incidents and one in 2000, all of which he pleaded guilty.
Jacoby admitted to phoning in the threats -- including one in which he claimed he "put anthrax into the air conditioner" -- so he could avoid court appearances on the theft, forgery and receiving stolen property charges.
After all three threats, the courthouse had to be evacuated and searched.
His attorney, James Heidecker, said he was not happy with the sentence but was unsure if he would have success getting it reduced.
"We can ask the court to reconsider, or we can appeal the sentence," Heidecker said. "But it will be difficult. It was a legal sentence."
Heidecker said Lehigh County President Judge William H. Platt explained his reasons for imposing such a long sentence.
"He cited the extreme inconvenience" that the incidents caused the entire system that is Lehigh County -- the court system, the emergency management personnel, police and fire officers as well as the FBI and citizens who were in the area doing business that day," Heidecker said.
Platt also considered Jacoby's actions as "some sort of judicial intimidation" planned to disrupt the system of justice on Oct. 26 and Dec. 7, 2001, Heidecker said.
"I can tell you personally, because I was in court on those days, that nobody felt threatened or traumatized," Heidecker said. "This wasn't a bin Laden type of thing where he struck fear in the hearts of the city. It was a stupid hoax, and he got the max for it.
"He has some time to do, he should be punished. But I've seen people slit throats and get less," Heidecker said.
Lehigh County Senior Deputy District Attorney Terry Houck agreed with the sentence.
"It was well-deserved," Houck said.
Houck pointed out that Jacoby stole about $50,000 from the Our Lady of Help Christian School and Home Association, for which he was the volunteer treasurer, and ran up a $40,000 tab on a credit card that belonged to his former business.
"You have a situation here where at almost every turn, he betrayed his trust," Houck said. "In his volunteer activities, in his work activities -- even in his capacity as a criminal defendant. He was stealing money everywhere."
Houck agreed with Platt that Jacoby placed a tremendous strain on the county's emergency services.
"I think ultimately, what this does is it sends a message that in addition to the violent crime, where defendants ritually deserve good hard sentences, it's also a message that, if you steal from innocent people all the time, repeatedly, habitually, and then try to get out of it, it's just not going to be condoned," Houck said. "You're going to have to pay the price."
Jimmy P. Miller is Bethlehem editor for The Express-Times. He can be reached at 610-867-5000 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Powder Scare at Al Gore's Tennessee Office
Tue Aug 27, 4:23 PM ET
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Reuters) - Police sealed a Nashville office rented by former vice president Al Gore on Tuesday after an envelope containing white powder was opened, police said.
The Nashville Metro Office of Emergency Management said police and a hazardous materials team were conducting tests and employees in the office were being checked but there was no immediate word whether the powder was anthrax or anything dangerous.
Jano Cabrera, a Gore spokesman, said an office worker opened a small plain envelope and "immediately, white powder spilled everywhere." He said the envelope was postmarked from Tennessee.
There was a rash of white powder scares -- many of them hoaxes -- following the still unsolved anthrax mailings which after the attacks of Sept. 11. A total of 23 people were believed to have contracted anthrax last year, and five died, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
Police said the office is in Lowe's Vanderbilt Plaza hotel near downtown Nashville.
Man Pleads Guilty To Anthrax Hoax
Nine Letters Sent To Police Contained White Powder
Posted: 4:48 p.m. MDT August 27, 2002
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The first Coloradan to be federally prosecuted for an anthrax hoax pleaded guilty Tuesday to mailing threatening communications.
Thanh Ha Nguyen faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine at a sentencing hearing scheduled for Oct. 11.
Nguyen had mailed nine letters last October to the Colorado Springs Police Department threatening to kill police officers, according to the plea agreement.
The letters had false return addresses naming his relatives and contained a white powder later identified as powdered milk, the agreement said.
Nguyen mailed the letters to get the relatives he listed on the return addresses in trouble, according to court documents.
Fingerprints on one letter matched Nguyen, and he also later told an FBI special agent he wrote all the letters, according to the plea agreement.
Nguyen's mother also identified her son as the author, based on the handwriting on the letters, according to court documents.
One letter included the statements, "Death to all police officers! All police officers are dead meat!" The sender then threatened to "kill all police officers dead for the rest of mine life," according to court documents.
The plea agreement indicated Nguyen had a "previous mental history" that cast doubt on the seriousness of the threats and his ability to carry them out.
Nguyen's criminal history includes convictions for possession of a false financial transaction device, uttering counterfeit obligations and securities, and fourth-degree arson, according to the agreement.
guilty in anthrax case
The Tampa News-Press
A Lee County Circuit Court jury has acquitted a Lehigh Acres man of using a hoax weapon of mass destruction because be sprinkled white powder on his best friend’s mail.
Jurors were out for an hour before finding Earl W. Beaird, 47, not guilty on Tuesday, August 20.
The incident took place on Oct. 30 during the height of the national anthrax scare, and when it was reported, Sheriff’s deputies and Lehigh Acres firefighters rushed to the scene and then sealed off the area.
Beaird told investigators that the whole thing was a practical joke played on his neighbor and friend of 30 years Steven Vander Hyden, according to a report in The News-Press. The state attorney’s office did not think it was funny and charged Beaird with the second degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Beaird told the jurors that he never intended that the powder be mistaken for anthrax. He said it was inspired by Vander Hyden’s habit of using a lot of talcum powder.
The prosecutor attempted to discredit Beaird’s testimony by reminding the jury that Beaird told the detective investigating the case that the two men had talked about anthrax a few days earlier, and Vander Hyden said if anthrax showed up in his mailbox he would “run for the hills.”
Vander Hyden testified that he was not scared by the powder, and the incident was not reported until the day after it happened.
Massachusetts Police Stations Get Mail Scare
Wed Sep 4, 4:30 PM ET
BOSTON (Reuters) - Eight Massachusetts police stations on Wednesday received threatening letters containing a white powder in an incident reminiscent of deadly attacks with letters containing anthrax spores in the days following the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.
"At this hour, we have indications that eight police departments, all in Essex County, have received threat letters with white powder in them," said Roseanne Pawelec, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
She declined to describe the envelopes, the nature of the threats they contained or say to whom the letters were addressed.
The eight towns were Hamilton, Middleton, Danvers, Marblehead, Salem, Peabody, Wenham, and Lynnfield.
Pawelec said the FBI was investigating and the powder had been sent to state testing facilities. More about its makeup may be known as early as Wednesday evening, she said.
Police chiefs around Massachusetts were alerted and hazardous materials crews were dispatched to the eight police stations, which are all north of Boston.
Coming just days before the one-year anniversary of the attacks, the incident was expected to refocus the nation's attention on security and the threat of future attacks.
Five people died last autumn after exposure to spores dispersed from anthrax-laced letters. Federal investigators have not found the source of the letters.
letters test negative for anthrax
September 4, 2002 Posted: 8:17 PM EDT (0017 GMT)
BOSTON, Massachusetts (CNN) --Preliminary tests of a white powder mailed in envelopes to 11 police departments north of Boston were negative for anthrax and the mailings appear to be a hoax, a top state health official said late Wednesday afternoon.
The FBI has launched a criminal investigation into the matter to find out who is behind the mailings.
"Our observations of the powder indicate there is not any potential risk associated with this powder," said Ralph Timperi, the director of the state Public Health Department laboratory where the tests are being performed.
"This appears to be one of many hoaxes that have been perpetrated."
The letters were sent to 11 police departments, all in Essex County. Each was postmarked in North Reading in the county, and addressed to the various police chiefs. There was no return address.
The envelopes contained a single sheet of paper with "BLACK SEPTEMBER" typed at the top and a few grams of the unidentified powder, said Timperi.
An FBI expert also examined the letters to assess whether there is a "credible threat," Timperi said.
"We have no reason to believe that this presents any risk whatsoever and should not cause concern among the people who may have been exposed to it," Timperi added.
He said health officials had conducted "rapid" tests on three of the letters to reach their conclusion. Further tests will be conducted on all the letters in the next day to determine exactly what the substance is.
Earlier in the day, immediately after the letters were found, all police and fire departments in the state were been warned to look for suspicious envelopes and to call the state fire marshal's office if a suspect letter is found, officials said.
State officials urged the public not to panic, saying there have been more than 3,000 anthrax scares since September 11 and each one has turned out to be a hoax.
David Goggin, the assistant secretary of public safety in Massachusetts, said hazardous-material teams responded immediately when "a number of police departments received envelopes today which contained an unidentified white powder."
Bob Cannon, a spokesman for the Postal Service, said the towns that reported receiving the envelopes are adjoining, and he said some of the recipients opened them, causing some powder to spill out. Some of those who opened the envelopes apparently noticed powder on the outside.
"We're concerned. As we get closer to 9/11, we may see -- assuming that we'll get negative results -- ... some hoaxes being played," Cannon said. "We're hoping this is another one."
Cannon said he was somewhat encouraged because the powder discovered Wednesday reportedly is white, and anthrax has a light-tan or brown color.
Envelopes with white powder were sent to police departments in Danvers, Topsfield, Marblehead, Lynnfield, Salem, Saugus, Beverly, Hamilton, Middleton, Wenham and Peabody. The communities are on the north side of the Boston metropolitan area.
Asked if he was surprised about the mailing, Marblehead Police Chief James Carney said, "I am slightly surprised, but there's a lot of crazy people out there."
Capt. Stephen Garland with the Lynnfield Police Department described the envelope this way: "It came in a plain envelope, very unassuming, something you would normally open" right away.
His department did not open the envelope, because they had just received an advisory from the hazmat unit of the Boston Fire Department to be on the lookout for the letter, Garland said.
Police in Salem said they received an envelope shortly before noon. Although it was not opened, a secretary came into contact with the white powder when some leaked out.
on Fri, Sep. 06, 2002
hoax causes Macon courthouse to shut down
An apparent anthrax hoax shut down part of the federal courthouse in Macon on Thursday after a letter containing a powdery substance was opened in an office area that morning.
The U.S. Marshals Service said the letter and its contents were sent to the Georgia Public Health Lab and initial tests were negative for any biological and chemical contaminant.
"Based on these preliminary results, the U.S. Marshals Service feels the letter and its contents are a hoax, as has occurred several times across the country in recent months," the service's statement said. "According to Georgia public health officials, the general public, visitors to the courthouse and building employees are in no danger."
The Macon-Bibb County Fire Department responded to the scene and decontaminated and sealed the area and individuals in the area, the release said. The fire department did not return a call seeking additional information on the response.
The U.S. Marshals Service did not provide specific information about the letter's location, but said it was opened in an office area not accessible to the general public.
Courtroom C, which is typically used by U.S. District Court Senior Judge Wilbur D. Owens Jr., was closed off with yellow "Police Line" tape. Some of the hearings Owens was scheduled to preside over Thursday were canceled.
Nikki Credic, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Marshals Service, said the letter did have a person's name on it, but officials could not speculate on whether that person was involved.
"At this point, it's still under investigation," she said.
scares dwindle with time, learning
By Bill Cresenzo
After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks came another kind of terror — this time in the form of a powder. Before Sept. 11 and the ensuing deaths that came from the powder, few people had even heard of anthrax. But in months after the terrorist attacks, anthrax was all over the news.
The “aerobic, gram positive, spore forming, nonmotile bacillus species,” according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, scared a lot of people and killed a few. In Florida, a photo editor at a tabloid died from anthrax exposure, and reports came in from all over the country of possible anthrax exposure.
Closer to home, a HAZMAT team went to the U.S. Post Office on Maple Street in Burlington after an employee there reported seeing powder on the floor. It was chalk. A few days before that, police sealed off a section of Alamance Regional Medical Center after an employee saw brown powder on envelopes. Again, it wasn’t anthrax.
People began wearing gloves and masks while opening the mail. Police met with city and county leaders to figure out what they would do in case of a biological terror attack. Burlington police answered 68 calls from people who said they got suspicious packages in the mail.
But, for now at least, anthrax is slowly blowing out of the public consciousness. “Everything is pretty much back to normal,” said Wayne Carmack, postmaster of the Burlington Post Office. “We have, of course, a heightened security awareness, but things are back to normal.”
Workers at the post office no longer wear gloves or masks, Carmack said. Maj. Randy Jones of the Burlington Police Department said the department had a team of people on call at all times to handle suspicious mail calls, but does not anymore. The last time the police department responded to an anthrax scare was about five months ago, Jones said. He said one reason the calls have tapered off is because people are more educated about what to look for in their mail. Alamance County Sheriff Gary Massey said his department still gets an occasional call about a suspicious package, but for the most part, they have tapered off.
“We’re not exactly the prime target for damage,” Massey said.
Embassy in Copenhagen receives 'suspicious package' with powder, spokesman
Wed Sep 11, 8:33 AM ET
COPENHAGEN, Denmark - A suspicious letter containing white powder was received Wednesday at the U.S. Embassy, officials said, adding the envelope was mailed in France.
"An unidentified white powder came out of the letter when it was opened in the embassy's mail room," said John-Erik Hansen, the head of the National Center for Biological Defense. "None of the people who were exposed (to the letter's content) have shown any immediate signs of sickness."
Hansen refused to say whether any embassy staff would undergo medical checks.
The letter was mailed in France, according to Hansen and the Copenhagen police, but no further details on the sender or contents were available.
Embassy officials earlier confirmed that a "suspicious package" had been received but declined further comment, but work at the downtown building was not disrupted.
Three center employees in rubber suits and gas masks left the embassy Wednesday afternoon with two black plastic bags. Hansen said they had taken "different kinds of samplings" but refused to disclose the content of the bags.
The samples will be sent to a laboratory in Stockholm, Sweden, later Wednesday to be tested, Hansen said. The results is expected within 24 hours.
The Copenhagen-based center coordinates activities regarding biological warfare agents and bioterrorism. The government created the center last year after a series of false anthrax alarms in this Scandinavian country and global scares of biological attacks.
Hundreds of suspicious packages were reported worldwide after several people were killed by anthrax-tained letters sent through the mail, but most proved to be hoaxes or false alarms.
package turns out to be cookies
By Rasheed Oluwa
STAATSBURG -- Walter has his cookies, the pain in Jack's neck has subsided and the grounds of the Hyde Park Mobile Manor are anthrax free.
But things weren't so smooth Tuesday afternoon when an envelope stuffed with $10 and a small package of Oreo cookies was called in to police as a suspicious package.
''I know everybody is wound up about Sept. 11,'' Jack Sedora said. ''But I didn't think things would get this bad.''
Sedora said the situation started when he and his wife got ready for his appointment at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center at Castle Point. The appointment was for a painful cyst in Sedora's neck.
Before the two left, they stopped to ask that their neighbors pick up their son, 5-year-old Walter Sedora, at the bus stop after school.
''My wife took an envelope filled with cookies and $10 just in case they wanted to go shopping,'' Sedora said.
Unfortunately, the neighbor didn't see the note inside the envelope. All she saw was a strange envelope that didn't have a stamp or return address.
With the country in heightened alert and the media barrage caused in anticipation of today's one-year anniversary, the neighbor became frightened and contacted Hyde Park town police, Sedora said.
Sedora and his wife returned home just as police secured the scene and retrieved the package.
''They did a good job as far as following procedure,'' he said.
Although Hyde Park town police acknowledged that they handled a false statement for a suspicious package Tuesday, they declined to comment further.
Sedora said police eventually returned the envelope to his neighbor.
''I'm hurting real bad and I've got a hole in my neck,'' Sedora said. ''But this is so funny. I can't stop laughing.''
in anthrax scare
Sep 11 2002
By Rosanna Alam And Susie Rowe, Croydon Post
AN ANTHRAX scare caused chaos at the Home Office when an applicant posted lucky spices with a request to stay in the UK.
Emergency services were on stand-by for mass decontamination last Thursday while Lunar House, Wellesley Road, Croydon was evacuated and nearby roads shut off.
It wasn't until two hours after the package was first discovered that police declared the powder harmless.
Malcolm Elliot, sub officer at West Norwood fire station, explained: "The worry was that it was a multi-storey air conditioned building, which can lead to risk of spreading contamination - so various safety precautions had to be put in place, such as chemical protection suits.
"This could have been a very sensitive situation and we were working together with the police and medical services.
"Fortunately, it was a false alarm as the substance turned out to be lucky spice but better to be safe than sorry, especially as it was this time last year the terrorist attacks happened."
The alert was initially sounded by an employee who found a suspicious package containing an envelope full of grey powder on the 14th floor of Lunar House.
The Fire Brigade were called to assist police at 15.42pm and the 6th Floor, where the post room is, was evacuated.
One person was taken to hospital and 100 people isolated while all roads within a 60 mile radius were closed.
A spokesperson for Lunar House said: "All the necessary precautions were taken and it was a false alarm. No-one was harmed."
U.S. Consulate Says Suspect Letter Harmless
Wed Sep 11,12:29 PM ET
BERLIN (Reuters) - A suspicious white substance contained in a letter sent to the U.S. consulate in Hamburg was found to be sugar, police said Wednesday, the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.
A spokesman for the Munich police said powder sent to the U.S. consulate in Munich was also harmless. "We can rule out that it's dangerous. This looks like a bad joke."
U.S. embassies or consulates in Germany, Denmark, Italy and Luxembourg received letters containing white powder on Wednesday, sparking fears of a fresh anthrax attack, a State Department official said.
The U.S. embassy in Rome said it had also received a suspicious letter containing a grainy substance. It said the letter had an international return address.
Five people died and 13 were taken ill after letters tainted with anthrax in powder form were sent to U.S. government officials and media outlets across the United States in the weeks after the attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.
September 12, 2002 10:45AM EDT
Jury convicts man of making anthrax threats against courthouse
ASHEVILLE, N.C.(AP) - A western North Carolina man has been convicted of sending letters he said were laced with anthrax to the federal courthouse in Asheville.
Kenneth Spring, 35, formerly of Waynesville, was found guilty Wednesday on 17 charges brought in the mailing of threatening letters last spring, the U.S. Attorney's office said.
According to testimony during Spring's three-day trial, he mailed six threatening letters to individuals with connections to the federal court in Asheville. Two of the letters contained a white, powdery substance and the word "anthrax" in the letter, according to testimony.
One letter containing white powder was addressed to U.S. District Judge Lacy Thornburg and was opened by Thornburg's secretary May 1. Tests revealed the powder to be the pain reliever acetaminophen.
Officials have said Spring mailed the letters from prison. In 1998, Spring was convicted of mailing threatening communications to the Jackson County Sheriff's Department. In June 2001, he was convicted of communicating murder threats against a U.S. district court judge and a federal law officer.
The office of U.S. Attorney Bob Conrad said Spring could face up to life in prison when he is sentenced. He is to remain in custody until the sentencing, which has not been scheduled.
© Copyright 2002, The News & Observer Publishing Company.
16, 2002, 7:12AM
Woman gets 6 months for Houston anthrax hoax
Copyright 2002 Houston Chronicle
A Chicago woman who had an anthrax hoax letter mailed to a Houston woman was sentenced Friday to six months in federal prison.
Robin Lynette Butler, 28, pleaded guilty in June to mailing threatening communications.
In November, she mailed an envelope with white powder and a note saying "Anthrax kills b----, to a friend in Virginia. Butler asked the unsuspecting friend to forward the letter to a Houston woman dating her ex-boyfriend, said prosecutor Abe Martinez.
Butler told the friend the envelope contained money for the Houston woman, who would not accept money from her. Butler apologized in court Friday for her actions and to the emergency agencies that responded to the hoax.
on Thu, Sep. 19, 2002
Man indicted for anthrax hoax
By DAVID B. CARUSO
PHILADELPHIA - A man who once claimed to be on a mission from God to kill abortion providers was indicted Thursday on charges he mailed anthrax hoax letters to women's clinics around the country last fall.
The federal indictment also charged Clayton Lee Waagner with posting a message on an anti-abortion Web site that said he had been following clinic employees home and was "going to kill as many of them as I can."
"Regardless of one's position on the life-choice issue, sending chilling death threats is a perversion," U.S. Attorney Patrick Meehan said. "It is terrorism, it is emotional violence, it is wrong."
Waagner, 45, was on the FBI's Most Wanted list when he was captured in December, 10 months after escaping from jail in Illinois. He was caught at a copy shop outside Cincinnati after an employee recognized him from his wanted poster.
Authorities said while he was on the run, Waagner posted the Web site message and mailed at least 550 letters to women's clinics in 24 states. The envelopes, from the "Army of God," contained a harmless white powder.
Scores of clinic workers who received the letters underwent decontamination procedures and sought medical care, though none suffered any harm from the powder. Several of the clinics closed for a short time.
Waagner told The Associated Press in a telephone interview in April that he mailed the letters to disrupt abortions without hurting anyone.
"Would you sacrifice yourself for 2,000 babies? That's what I've done," he said.
Federal public defender Kelly Johnson, who advised Waagner during an unrelated trial in Ohio, said Waagner plans to argue that he sent the letters out of necessity.
"He felt that he needed to break the law to prevent a greater harm from occurring," Johnson said.
Waagner had not been charged in connection with the letters until Thursday, but had already been found guilty of other crimes committed while on the run. He was convicted on gun charges in Ohio and was sentenced to 30 years in prison in Illinois for the jailbreak and weapons offenses.
He also is charged with bank robberies in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, a car theft in Mississippi and possession of a pipe bomb in Tennessee.
When he broke out of jail in February 2001, Waagner was serving time for driving his wife and eight children to Illinois in 1999 in a stolen camper with four stolen handguns under his seat.
Abortion-rights activists said the letters were considered serious threats.
"It was right after 9-11. Planned Parenthood clinics had received anthrax hoax letters before, and people had been killed at Planned Parenthood clinics before," said Dorothy Lohman, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania, which received several of the letters.
teen guilty in anthrax hoax
By JASON SCHREIBER
Union Leader Correspondent
Sept. 20, 2002
BRENTWOOD — A Brentwood teenager has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from an anthrax hoax in January in which he claimed to be stuffing the potentially deadly powder in letters.
Elijah P. Wallace, 18, entered his plea as prosecutors were preparing for his trial in Rockingham County Superior Court last week.
Wallace was indicted on one count of burglary and six counts of criminal threatening after he was arrested Jan. 4 when police responded to a burglary at a Fremont home. When Fremont officers searched the home on Bean Road they found Wallace, allegedly armed with a pistol and two knives, huddled in a closet.
Police found Wallace with white powder and a threatening note, along with other sealed envelopes.
Wallace claimed he was responsible for sending a suspicious letter to U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle’s Washington office last December. The letter tested negative for anthrax, but Daschle’s office did receive a letter in the mail with anthrax last fall.
Wallace also told police he sent anthrax-laced letters to the state Department of Motor Vehicles and other local businesses.
The powder Wallace possessed tested negative for anthrax.
According to police, Wallace said he broke into the home to set up a “base of operation” for sending anthrax-laced letters.
Fremont Police Chief Neal Janvrin said yesterday the Wallace case should send a strong message to others who may try to pull off similar anthrax jokes.
“This lets them know that these types of charges are a serious offense and we will prosecute it vigorously through the courts,” he said.
Wallace’s father maintains his son fabricated the anthrax story to get attention.
Meanwhile, Wallace faces federal charges as well for allegedly making threats against President Bush in a letter he sent to WMUR-TV.
Sentencing for Wallace in the anthrax case is set for Oct. 22 at 9 a.m. in Superior Court.
powder tests negative for anthrax
The building remains closed.
Initial tests indicate white powder found with a threatening letter at the state Capitol is not a hazardous substance.
The state Capitol has been evacuated since about 12:40 p.m., when the powder spilled from an envelope workers opened. The envelope was addressed to the governor and also contained a threatening note, authorities said.
Authorities plan to keep the building closed for now.
Hazardous materials workers in special protective gear entered the building and peformed the tests.
“They have a chemical test; it basically tells them if it is anthrax or anything like that,” said Bill Holmstrom, Salem Fire Department spokesman.
The substance will undergo more tests to determine exactly what it is.
Even if the powder turns out to be harmless, the person who sent it still may be charged with a crime. Such mail hoaxes have come under increased scrutiny since last year's anthrax attacks. The federal government has already prosecuted several people for mail hoaxes.
anthrax, smallpox in threatening Oregon letter.
26 September 2002
(c) 2002 Reuters Limited
PORTLAND, Ore., Sept 26 (Reuters) - The FBI on Thursday said that a letter believed sent from Pakistan containing white powder and threats against Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber tested negative for both anthrax and smallpox.
The Centers for Disease Control Laboratory in Atlanta was conducting additional tests on the powder, which would take several days, the FBI said in a release.
After the letter was opened at the Oregon state capitol in Salem on Wednesday, officials evacuated the building and ordered the decontamination of four people exposed to the powder. None of the four showed any signs of illness.
Local media reported the envelope had a Pakistan postmark, but an FBI spokeswoman said she could not confirm that report.
The FBI has not determined that the letter was a "credible" threat, but noted that a person who threatens use of a weapon of mass destruction could face life in prison if convicted.
hoax nets defendant 3 months
By Michelle Graff
Marietta Daily Journal Staff Writer
SMYRNA — A Powder Springs man who sent a letter containing white powder to the Smyrna police department last November amid a nationwide anthrax scare was sentenced to a maximum of 120 days in an alternative prison this week.
Saye Tiah, 24, of Powder Springs pleaded guilty to making terrorist threats and acts, and using a hoax device. The district attorney’s office agreed to the sentence of between 90 to 120 days at the Cobb County Diversion Center and five years probation for the letter mailed on Nov. 5.
Shortly before the letter made its way to the Smyrna police department, Attorney General John Ashcroft and Director of Homeland Security Tom Ridge appeared at a Washington, D.C., press conference in October, warning that terrorist threats are punishable by up to five years in prison — or life in prison, if the threat is made through use of a biological toxin.
Cobb County District Attorney Pat Head said the district attorney’s office got the best sentence they could under the circumstances.
“When you are evaluating a case, you look at your strengths and your weaknesses,” he said. “If you think there is good possibility the jury will not find them guilty of the crime as charged, you go for a lesser sentence. It’s not as easy as saying he did this. You have to be able to prove it.”
Tiah, a native of Liberia, was arrested for sending the letter during a traffic stop on Nov. 7, according to police. He wrote his ex-girlfriend’s return address on the letter, which is what led police to Tiah’s identity, according to police.
Though he could not discuss the specifics of the Tiah case, Head said that, in any case, prosecutors must factor in the circumstances surrounding the accused’s life at the time of the offense, past convictions and whether any experts, such as psychiatrists, could be brought in to sway the jury’s decision. Tiah has no past convictions in the state of Georgia, according to Georgia Department of Corrections records.
Assistant District Attorney Lance Cross was the prosecutor in the case. Head said he feels Cross made a good decision.
“If he felt this was a fair deal, then I trust his judgment,” he said. “We would rather have something, so there is a record of what he has done.”
Smyrna Police Chief Stanley Hook, who opened the letter, said the sentence was fine with him.
“It was not a personal thing between him and me,” he said. “He didn’t even know my name. He was angry at somebody, and he struck out at us.”
Hook said the defense and the district attorney’s office approached him with the proposed sentence before taking it to the judge.
The Cobb County Diversion Center, located on North Cobb Parkway, is a facility for criminals convicted to a sentence of 120 days or less, according to Scheree Lipscomb, spokesperson for the department of corrections.
She said inmates of the center are released for work during the day and return to the center at night. She said those chosen to serve their time in a diversion center are normally misdemeanor probation violators who are physically and mentally able to maintain paid employment in the community.
As part of their stay at the diversion center, inmates are required to attend life skills programs, she said.
E. Carl Touchstone, the Atlanta attorney listed as defending Tiah, did not respond to request for comment.
protocol wasn't used in anthrax scare
The Portland Oregonian - 09/27/02
by JANIE HAR
Lack of facts and possible miscommunication caused Oregon State Police to forgo general procedure Wednesday when they entered the Capitol not understanding they might face powdered anthrax.
By the time the three officers met with a mail clerk -- sprinkled with white powder from an envelope addressed to the governor -- it was too late.
All four had to be quarantined for three hours until preliminary tests indicated the substance was not dangerous. The incident shut down the Capitol until Thursday morning.
The powder tested negative in preliminary tests for anthrax and smallpox, according to state health officials. The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta will hang on to the envelope for more testing that should take several days.
Officials reported Thursday that the three Oregon State Police officers had different information when they arrived at a third-floor mailroom, where they found clerk Ed Tomlinson with powder on his shirt and desk. Generally, officers are supposed to stay away and call a hazardous materials team when there is a threat of anthrax or other dangerous substance.
"We're still trying to put all the pieces together," said Lt. Glenn Chastain. "We don't know who told who what about what they knew."
Oregon State Trooper Billy Martin received a call on his cell phone shortly before 12:22 p.m. He was told about the white powder in the envelope.
Trooper Ken Henry was contacted next via radio and asked to assist with a suspicious package. Chastain said it's common for officers contacted by radio to be given less information so the public is not alarmed.
As Henry headed to the building, he ran into Sgt. Gregg Lockwood, who is assigned to the governor's office. Most likely, the two men met Martin near the stairs, Chastain said.
He said Martin probably assumed the other two officers, who thought they were checking out a suspicious package -- something the department does regularly -- had other information that would warrant going to the room.
"If we had confirmation that it could be anthrax, we would not have responded," Chastain said. "As soon as they saw the powder, they followed procedure to the letter. . . . We get calls for service all the time where we get partial information, erroneous information."
After the officers saw the powder, they called to shut down the ventilation system, called in a hazardous materials team from the Salem Fire Department and had the building evacuated.
Tomlinson and the officers remained in the room and in the hallway until a hazardous materials team arrived to conduct preliminary tests on the powder. When the tests came up negative for anthrax, the four showered and went home.
All three police officers declined to comment Thursday. Chastain said there's a "good possibility" for more follow-up questions. The incident might change how the agency responds to such calls, including requiring a return phone call to the mail clerk for a description of the scene, or more details.
Chastain also said nobody informed police that Jan McComb, a legislative employee whose office is near the mailroom, was in the room when the letter was opened. She left before the officers arrived. Salem Fire Department's hazardous materials team tracked her down Wednesday night and told her to wash her clothes and shower.
A sixth person -- a mail clerk in the basement where the letter was initially delivered -- may also have touched the envelope before it was opened. Leonard Bathke, who supervises the mailroom, said he did not learn of the reason for the evacuation until they were outside.
"We don't know for sure if my clerk came in contact with it," Bathke said.
Dr. Grant Higginson, the state public health officer, said agency procedure requires them to track everyone who may have come into contact with a sealed or unsealed letter only if preliminary tests turn up positive. That still gives the agency time to treat any victims.
The FBI is still determining whether the letter is a credible threat. It made reference to both smallpox and anthrax. Health officials, however, say there is no evidence the smallpox virus can be sent in powdered form.
The letter listed Pakistan in its return address but officials declined to comment on its postmark or on the investigation of who might have sent it.
"At this point it does not appear someone actually intended to hurt somebody," said FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele. But the threat alone constitutes a crime that could carry a sentence of life imprisonment.
Steele declined to comment on whether the bureau had any leads.
30/09/02 - News and city section
Anthrax 'joker' in court
A businessman triggered a major alert at a sorting office with a "joke" salt-filled letter sent to a friend in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks on America and the world-wide anthrax scare, a court heard today.
It began when the innocent-looking manila envelope started leaking its "white powder" contents over postman Alan Owen's hand as he sorted mail for the first delivery of the day.
After telling a manager what had happened and heading for the nearest sink to wash his hands, a special police team, formed to deal with chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear incidents, was called in and promptly evacuated the place.
Although officers quickly established the envelope's granular contents were harmless, it caused "widespread inconvenience", London's Southwark Crown Court was told.
Not only was the Wembley sorting office in north London out of action for the best part of two hours, but 31,000 Consignia customers had to make do with a late first delivery and a cancelled second one.
In the dock is kosher butcher Harry Goldstein, 38, of Stanley Road, Salford, Greater Manchester, who denies one count of causing a public nuisance in October last year.
Opening what is expected to be a week-long trial, Tracy Ayling, prosecuting, began by reminding the jury of six men and six women of September 11, when Islamic terrorists hijacked passenger planes and used two to demolish the World Trade Centre and a third to attack the Pentagon.
"You will remember where you were and what you were doing, and, no doubt, the news footage that went out in the evening.
"What you may not remember...is a very real threat of biological warfare weapons, particularly anthrax, a substance that looks like powder, is extremely dangerous and can cause death.
"There was a scare in the US of it being sent through the post. It happened on a number of occasions. People died. People were extremely ill, and there was at the time a world-wide threat in relation to such substances," she said.
The barrister said that as a result a special police unit was formed called the Chemical, Biological, Radioactive and Nuclear Response Team, to deal with a number of anthrax-type scares in Britain.
"Such scares were being taken very seriously, particularly by large businesses and particularly by the police and post office workers themselves who were aware of this very real and serious threat. It was dangerous."
It was against that backdrop that Mr Owen reported for work on October 19 and began sorting mail for his first delivery of the day.
He was in the process of pigeon-holing an envelope addressed to Mr Ibrahim Schwartz at his business premises on the Wembley Stadium Trading Estate, when he noticed it contained a "free flowing" substance. Seconds later white granules started trickling on to his hand.
"Because of his knowledge of the anthrax scares in the US, as you might imagine he got a terrific fright, believing as he did that the powder...was contaminated," said Miss Ayling.
Taking up the story Mr Owen told the court that having heard of two American postmen who had died from anthrax poisoning, he "straight away" reported what had happened to a manager.
"They sealed the envelope in front of me...the sorting office then got evacuated and the police were called."
He told the jury that once the all-clear was given he returned to work and later went on his round. One of those he delivered to was the would-be recipient of the letter that had caused the trouble.
Told what had happened, he did not seem particularly concerned, but when informed the envelope had also contained a cheque he immediately asked: "Where is it?"
The court heard police quickly traced the letter to Mr Goldstein, who explained he had sent it as a "joke" to friend and business associate Abraham Erlich - who runs the kosher food business called Schwartz.
To "highlight the significance" of his prank, he had altered the spelling of his first name to the Arab version of Ibrahim.
During a later interview Goldstein repeated to officers that the salt had been intended as a "private joke" between the two of them, a "wind-up", but admitted he knew of the current anthrax scares.
The case continues.
man sentenced in anthrax scare
October 2, 2002 Posted: 05:05:10 AM PDT
THE FRESNO BEE
When she ripped open the traffic citation envelope expecting to find a check, Sandra Perez-Uecker's heart stopped as the powdery substance floated over her.
"I sat there frozen for almost 30 minutes that day," she said. "I thought I was going to die; my child was going to be left alone."
Perez-Uecker addressed U.S. District Judge Robert E. Coyle, but her words were meant for Bret Raymer of Modesto, the man who mailed his $15 payment for a Modesto parking ticket -- and included a substance that turned out to be cornstarch.
Raymer, 37, was sentenced to 11 months in prison and three years on supervised release Monday for sending a threatening communication through the mail.
The sentence will run consecutively with a one-year term that Raymer is serving in Stanislaus County for violating his probation by being a felon in possession of firearm.
Raymer was indicted during the height of the anthrax scare in November, and Coyle convicted him in July after a brief trial.
He apologized to Perez-Uecker, saying he was "terribly sorry."
Raymer's lawyer, assistant federal public defender Marc C. Ament, said the case will be appealed as a test case to decide whether Raymer's actions were a crime under the statute with which he was charged. There were no threatening words written in the envelope.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan B. Conk-lin said Raymer, whose brother is a Modesto police officer, knew what he was doing, that it wasn't an action based on "impulse." The envelope was sent at the height of "the public hysteria" created after anthrax was sent through the mail in the United States, Conklin added.
Perez-Uecker told investigators after the incident that she immediately thought it was anthrax and felt like she was going to have a heart attack. She said she could not stop shaking when the powdery substance fell out of the envelope.
In his ruling, the judge agreed with prosecutors that "a reasonable recipient, receiving a letter containing a powdery substance during the nationwide anthrax scare, would interpret the communication as a threat."
The judge also agreed that the person who opened the envelope was the one who was threatened.
"The defendant should not be able to avoid prosecution for sending that envelope simply because the envelope was addressed to a municipality, instead of an actual 'person,'" Coyle said.
scare hits Town Hall
By Janet DelTufo, Staff Writer
After a letter containing a white powdery substance was opened Monday by a deputy clerk of the Wickenburg Town Court, Town Hall was evacuated and sealed off for the remainder of the day.
The envelope, which was opened by Kristi Quintana, was addressed to Town Magistrate of the Wickenburg Town Court Fred Lizarraga. It was taken as evidence by the Department of Public Safety's (DPS) Hazardous Materials Unit and delivered to the state lab in Phoenix.
White powdery substances have created alerts throughout the country after the deadly chemical anthrax was detected in the Washington, D.C. area after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Prior to the arrival of the DPS unit, the Wickenburg Police and Volunteer Fire Departments cordoned off the potential contaminated area and proceeded by decontaminating town employees who may have been in contact with the substance.
"This area will be secured for at least 24 hours," said Police Chief Tony Melendez at Town Hall. "We want everyone to know that we take these kinds of things seriously."
The decontamination process consisted of each employee getting rinsed down in the parking lot from head to toe. Family members and friends of town employees were seen bringing changes of clothing to their loved ones prior to their individual showers.
Employees did not have to remove their clothing until after the shower and they did so in private.
The threatening letter, which caused the disruption of service to the town, was sent to Wickenburg Town Court Judge Fred Lizzarraga.
The contents of the letter are still unknown, but when Quintana opened it, the substance (five grams in total) spilled all over her clothing.
After notifying the police, the building - including the Wickenburg Justice Court (Maricopa County) and the Police Department - was evacuated.
The letter was immediately tested for anthrax, and the first set of tests were found to be negative. The final results of exactly what the substance was will be known sometime today (Wednesday, Oct. 2).
Sgt. Bill Ross of the DPS Hazardous Materials Unit said once the letter has been determined to be free of any dangerous substance, the letter and envelope will be delivered to the Federal Bureau of Investigations in Phoenix. It will be handled by the weapons of mass destruction coordinator.
"The FBI has been notified, and once the letter is declared clean, they will actually be able to get evidence from the envelope, letter and stamp," Ross said. "The CDC (Center for Disease Control) is notified only if the tests come back positive, but out of the 22,000 cases like this nationwide last year, only five were positive and they were right after Sept. 11."
Ross said antibiotics were not prescribed to those who might have been in contact with the substance, because there is an incubation period for anthrax of five to seven days.
If the final tests come back positive, the Maricopa County Health Department will then advise the town on how to proceed with treatments, and how to clean the building.
The postal inspection service came to Wickenburg within hours and performed a coordinated investigation with the WPD, after receiving a call from local Postmaster Leigh Tyrell.
Once WPD Detective Owen Black notified Tyrell about the letter, she said that all the employees washed up there at the office.
"The inspection service asked which employees were on duty, in case the substance was anthrax," Tyrell said. "But I got a call this afternoon, informing me that the initial tests were negative and we're all feeling blessed right now."
Judge Lizarraga - who was not immediately available for comment - has recently been a target of angry citizens. An anonymous citizens group had handed out disparaging information prior to the primary election earlier this month. And there has been talk of a formal complaint being filed by another group of citizens.
The Justice Court and WPD was open for business on Tuesday, as those offices are on the other side of the building and are not on the same air duct system as Town Hall.
There was a notice on the front door, alerting people to the fact that the justice court was open, but the notice also said there had been an anthrax threat to the building the day before.
As for Quintana, she had been taken to the hospital for observation and later released.
Melendez said the building would be sealed until the final results were made available to him, but even if those results are negative, his job is not complete.
"This is a two-part process for the Wickenburg police," Melendez said. "Our main concern was the contamination of the employees, and that was the priority. Now we have a crime scene that we have to develop a case on, and that's what we're going to do next."
Man sentenced in anthrax hoax
A 20-year-old Lebanon man was sentenced in federal court yesterday to serve six months behind bars after being convicted for creating an anthrax hoax at Lebanon High School last year.
United States District Judge Todd Campbell sentenced Eric S. Davenport to the incarceration to be followed by two years of supervised release, the U.S. attorney's office said.
Davenport had previously pleaded guilty to sending a white powder to Lebanon High School Vice Principal Steve Johnson in November.
Parts of the school were shut down and numerous Wilson County agencies responded to the hoax, said Assistant U.S. Attorney William Cohen.
The U.S. Bureau of Prisons will determine whether Davenport will serve his time in a jail or a federal prison, Cohen said.
CLAIMED ANTHRAX HOAX LETTER WAS A JOKE
By Mike Donachie
A letter marked "Anthrax, open at your own risk," which sparked an alert after being sent from Perth Prison to a house in Dundee, was intended as a joke, its sender told the police.
Perth Sheriff Court heard yesterday Greig Donaldson (25), c/o Faulkener, 8 Laing Place, Dundee, terrified staff at a Royal Mail sorting office in Edinburgh soon after the threat of letters laced with anthrax was at its height in the United States of America.
Donaldson admitted that on February 8 this year, at the Edinburgh Road jail, he breached the peace by sending to a man in Dundee a letter marked with words including "Anthrax, open at your own risk," and placed members of staff of the Post Office in a state of fear and alarm."
The charge also included the full text of the message on the envelope, which included an obscenity and the football chant "Ooh ah Cantona."
The court heard the letter was spotted by a member of sorting office staff at around 12.30am and brought to the attention of management.
Around 50 people were working there as the item was isolated and placed in a sealed container.
The police took the letter away by 2 am and later checks showed it did not contain the deadly virus anthrax.
Officers had no difficulty tracing the sender, because the accused’s name and address were inside the letter.
Initially, he was reticent to admit his involvement, but eventually said the letter had been sent as a joke in response to a letter mentioning Afghanistan.
David Holmes, defending, said Donaldson had recently obtained an apprenticeship as a bricklayer.
Sentence was deferred to November 6 for reports.
suspect gets jail sentence
By David Gurliacci
October 17, 2002
BRIDGEPORT -- A 71-year-old Norwalk man who threatened to contaminate courthouses and schools with anthrax was sentenced yesterday to six months of incarceration, but a judge recommended that he serve it in a federal halfway house.
Exactly a year after police received the telephone threat to contaminate the federal courthouse in Bridgeport and other buildings with anthrax, Judge Stefan Underhill sat before Fred C. Forcellina in that courthouse to sentence the perpetrator.
Forcellina was arrested about 30 seconds after he hung up the telephone receiver, his lawyer said.
"I see before me a very good man who's lived a very good life, who did one of the stupidest and most shocking things that I've ever seen as a judge," Underhill said just before handing down his sentence. "What do you do in a case like this? It's not easy."
Forcellina indicated in his anonymous Oct. 16, 2001, telephone call that he was a Muslim, possibly from Afghanistan, and his threats were made in reaction to what the United States was doing to "my people."
He said anthrax had been put in the Stamford and Norwalk state courthouses, as well, and that railroad stations would be next, possibly followed by school buildings.
It was just a month after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and anthrax letters had started appearing in the news. A state office building had been evacuated after one false anthrax threat. Weeks later, a Connecticut woman died from anthrax contamination.
The police officer who received the anonymous call asked Forcellina who his people were, but Forcellina hung up.
Forcellina is Italian-American, and has been a Jehovah's Witness since he was a child, said his lawyer, federal public defender Terence Ward. Since his arrest, Forcellina has been formally shunned by the Jehovah's Witnesses, Ward said.
"It would be hard to imagine a person who feels more shame and remorse than Mr. Forcellina," Ward said.
Forcellina has spoken before 30,000 people at a religious rally in Shea Stadium, and for two years before his arrest, he delivered food to a homeless shelter seven days a week, Ward said. For five years, the lawyer said, Forcellina regularly visited people at a nursing home.
Forcellina was also successful in business, running a sausage factory for 25 years which employed 22 people at one point. More recently he worked as a real estate agent in Norwalk.
But about a year before he committed the crime, Forcellina lost his entire $3 million fortune -- "representing, basically, all his life's work, all his life's savings," Ward said.
Forcellina was incarcerated for two months after his arrest, and that time is expected to be deducted from his six-month sentence.
After his release, he will be on probation for two years, during which time he must perform 100 hours of community service a year and receive psychiatric counseling.
Forcellina said he was deeply sorry and, "I hate myself for what I said." He hopes anyone who even heard of his crime "can forgive me and . . . please don't hate me."
At the end of the hearing, after the sentence had been delivered, Underhill said he wanted to give Forcellina "a couple thoughts." He paused for a bit.
"You essentially asked for forgiveness," Underhill said. The judge said he wasn't in "a position to forgive" Forcellina. "I want to say, you're going to have to find that somewhere else."
Copyright © 2002, Southern Connecticut Newspapers, Inc.
"Joke" Earns Woman Probation
10/18/2002 10:28:42 PM
(AP)-Three years on probation is the sentence for an eastern Missouri woman who said she mailed baby-powder labeled "anthrax" to a friend as a joke.
Larissa Tasios, of St. Charles, was sentenced Thursday in federal court in Boston. The 22-year-old pleaded guilty in June to mailing a threatening communication.
Tasios says it was supposed to be a joke for her friend in Haverhill, Massachusetts. But the envelope was opened by another person living at the address, who knows Tasios but contacted authorities.
It happened during the height of the anthrax scare last October.
police officers found guilty in 2001 anthrax hoax
Posted on Sat, Oct. 19, 2002
The two women drew probation on misdemeanor charges for sending a false message from their cruiser.
By Miriam Hill
Two former Philadelphia police officers were found guilty of misdemeanors yesterday for sending an anthrax hoax last year over their cruiser's computer.
A Common Pleas Court jury found Gina McFadden, 27, guilty of unlawful use of a computer and of making false reports to law enforcement authorities. Judge Anthony DeFino sentenced her to two years of probation and fined her $2,500.
The jury found McFadden's partner, Dawn Norman, 26, guilty of making false reports to law enforcement authorities. She received six months' probation.
But the jury found the two former officers not guilty of felony charges of criminal mischief and unlawful use of a computer. The two were also acquitted of misdemeanor charges of obstruction and criminal conspiracy. They lost their jobs because of the incident.
"We don't care about that... ," the message said, employing an obscenity. "We say... USA. We can't stand America. We have anthrax in our car."
McFadden had admitted typing the message as a joke on Oct. 18, 2001, over a system used by all police cruisers, but she said she sent it accidentally. She testified that she initially lied to her supervisors because she feared being charged as a terrorist in the traumatic days following Sept. 11, 2001.
"I'm disgusted with myself for writing that message," McFadden said on the witness stand Thursday. "I wish I had told the truth."
Surrounded in the courtroom after the trial by family and friends, McFadden and Norman would not comment further.
Assistant District Attorney Marianne Cox presented evidence that both officers had asked their superiors if they would get sick because of the anthrax exposure. A hazardous-materials team dismantled the pair's cruiser. Police spent 12 days and $14,000 investigating the anthrax scare, Cox said, before determining that McFadden had sent the message.
"I was very pleased," Cox noted, "that the jury recognized the fact that the defendants' actions were a breach of trust and were criminal."
McFadden's lawyer, Allan Sagot, said the jury had seen through attempts by the Police Department and the prosecution to make the hoax seem more serious than it was.
sentenced to prison in anthrax threat
Thursday, October 24, 2002
BRENTWOOD - A Brentwood teenager who broke into a Fremont home and told police he was mailing anthrax-laced letters to politicians has been sentenced to up to four years in state prison.
Under a plea agreement, Elijah Wallace, 18, must undergo a psychological evaluation and counseling and pay restitution to the homeowner and the state.
Wallace pleaded guilty last month to burglary, criminal mischief and four counts of criminal threatening.
Since being jailed on the burglary charge, he also has been charged with threatening to kill President Bush and others in letters and statements. He is scheduled for trial on those charges next month.
Wallace’s father, Eric Wallace, has said his son is a compulsive liar who was probably seeking attention. He also has said his son suffers from autism and has been in and out of jail in recent years.
Police who investigated a burglary call in January found Wallace hiding in a closet, armed with a pistol and two knives. He also had white powder and a threatening note, as well as sealed envelopes addressed to politicians. Authorities later determined the powder did not contain anthrax.
Wallace told police he had mailed an anthrax-laced letter to U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle in December, but the letter tested negative for anthrax. Although Daschle’s office did receive a letter containing real anthrax last fall, Wallace was quickly ruled out as a suspect.
Wallace also told police he had sent anthrax-laced letters to the state Department of Motor Vehicles and local businesses, but those letters never surfaced, authorities said.
At a hearing Tuesday in Rockingham County Superior Court, Wallace was sentenced to two to four years in state prison for burglary and one year for the other charges. The second sentence was suspended on condition of good behavior for two years, starting after he finishes serving time for burglary.
varies in anthrax hoaxes
Charges, sentences are inconsistent
By Michael Higgins
A year after Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft vowed that anthrax hoaxers would "pay a high price," some of those convicted of making the biological threats are serving years in prison, while others have walked away without a night behind bars.
Charged with a variety of offenses, and tried by prosecutors and judges who had virtually no experience in such cases, they have faced penalties that are widely inconsistent -- turning sometimes on details as arcane as whether a powder-filled envelope was mailed or hand-delivered.
Timothy Kato, a DeKalb college student, sent envelopes containing sand and letters warning of anthrax to two professors. The quarantine, clean-up and investigation that followed forced his school to close for half a day in January. Kato, 23, pleaded guilty in federal court and, though he had no prior record, was sentenced to 2 years, 11 months in prison.
Meanwhile, a Wheeling woman, Pearl Rickert, 67, pleaded guilty in Cook County Circuit Court to sending talcum powder to an auto mechanic she thought had ripped her off. In May, she was sentenced to probation and community service.
Anthrax hoaxes became a twist on the national news less than a month after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, when letters containing real anthrax were delivered to news organizations and the offices of a U.S. senator.
In the weeks and months that followed, anthrax hoaxes stoked the panic and distracted investigators in pursuit of real terrorists. In an effort to crack down on the incidents, Ashcroft held a news conference to warn the perpetrators, "You will be caught, you will be prosecuted, and you will pay a high price for your crimes."
A year later, more than 60 people have been charged with anthrax hoaxes in federal court alone, according to a Justice Department estimate.
Only a couple of dozen of those hoaxers have been sentenced. But even those few results show disparities that anger families of some defendants facing harsh sentences. At the heart of the confusion lies a basic question: Were these simply a different form of threats, or an attack on the nation itself?
"To one prosecutor, it's more like biological terrorism, and to another prosecutor, it's more like sending a threat" of any other kind, said Jim Felman, a Tampa defense attorney and co-chairman of a group that advises the U.S. Sentencing Commission. "It's an area where, on a gut level, reasonable people could disagree. . . . I think it ought to be clarified if possible."
Legal experts say that although there aren't enough cases to draw firm statistical conclusions, the sentences show how the nature of hoaxes challenges the legal system's ability to be even-handed.
Hoaxers who put their fake anthrax in the U.S. mail were often charged with the federal crime of "mailing a threatening communication." That crime can be punished by a prison sentence of less than a year or even probation under federal sentencing guidelines.
But defendants such as Kato who put their threat into interoffice mail or delivered it by hand could not be charged under the mail statute. Instead, Kato and others faced the more serious charge of "threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction." That charge makes it virtually impossible for a judge to grant probation under federal guidelines, experts said. A prison sentence of more than year is likely.
Kato's mother, Barbara, a Chicago health-care worker, conceded that her son, a struggling student, picked the wrong way and wrong time to express his frustration after a professor refused to let him retake a missed exam. But she said he was devastated to learn the prison time he was facing.
"The 35 months is longer than he should get," Barbara Kato said.
U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald's office would not discuss whether Kato would have been charged with a lesser offense had his threat come through the U.S. mail. But Keith Syfert, the attorney in charge of Fitzgerald's Rockford office, said Kato's sentence was fair.
"They were serious threats that were taken seriously both by the individuals that received them and the junior college," said Syfert, noting that the hoax halted a construction project and cost the school and its contractor more than $25,000.
Some federal prosecutors have balked at using the "mass destruction" statute against hoaxers. In Texas, Samantha Rogers, 24, was arrested after she put two envelopes containing coffee creamer and sugar into the interoffice mail at the paper mill where she worked.
Because the U.S. mail wasn't used, prosecutors charged Rogers under the more severe "mass destruction" statute, said Kerry Klintworth, an assistant U.S. attorney in Beaumont, Texas. But in exchange for a guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to let Rogers be sentenced under the federal guidelines associated with the crime of mailing a threat.
Rogers was sentenced to 16 months in prison.
Several people who mailed anthrax threats have been sentenced to less than a year.
Eric Davenport, 20, of Lebanon, Tenn., mailed white powder to the vice principal at his former high school. Federal prosecutors in Nashville charged Davenport both under the "mass destruction" statute and with mailing a threat, but they dropped the more serious charge as part of a plea bargain. Davenport was sentenced to 6 months.
A Chicago woman, Robin Butler, 28, mailed a mixture of flour and sugar to a woman in Houston with a note that read, "Anthrax kills . . . " Federal prosecutors in Houston charged Butler with mailing a threatening communication. She pleaded guilty and, in September, was sentenced to 6 months in a federal halfway house.
More research on more cases would be needed to show that the anthrax cases are producing a wider disparity in sentences than other crimes, said Sara Sun Beale, law professor at Duke University in North Carolina.
But "clearly, the selection of the charge initially is having a big impact here," she said.
There have been at least five other anthrax hoax prosecutions in the Chicago area since 9/11.
Two postal workers, Clarence Lindsey of Bellwood and Glenn Gentile of Chicago, were prosecuted in federal court. Lindsey, who admitted writing "anthrax inclosed" on a package at his workstation, was sentenced to 4 months of home confinement. Gentile, who wrote "biohazard--anthrax" on a mail container, was sentenced to probation and the 2 months he had served before pleading guilty. Both lost their jobs.
Two other hoaxers prosecuted in state court received a form of probation. Adarsh Arora, 56, of Niles pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in August for sending a note mentioning anthrax to a car dealership that had angered her. XXXXXXXXXXXXX of Chicago pleaded guilty in May to disorderly conduct for leaving white powder for his roommate to find as a joke.
And James Vasselli, a former Cook County prosecutor, resigned from his job after being accused of putting an envelope filled with sugar on the desk of a co-worker. He was charged with a felony count of disorderly conduct, but a Cook County judge threw out the charge in April after finding no probable cause, according a spokesman for state Atty. Gen. Jim Ryan's office.
Copyright © 2002, Chicago Tribune
1 November, 2002, 13:40 GMT
'Anthrax hoaxer' escapes jail
A butcher who started an anthrax alert by sending a letter containing salt crystals to a friend has escaped jail.
Harry Goldstein, from Greater Manchester, sent the letter at the height of last October's anthrax scare to raise "a chuckle".
The white crystals leaked onto a postal worker at a sorting office in Wembley, north west London, forcing 100 workers to flee.
Mr Goldstein, of Stanley Road, Salford, was convicted of causing a public nuisance and sentenced to 140-hours of community service.
He must also pay the prosecution costs of £1,850, and hand over £500 compensation to postman Alan Owen for the "shock and temporary mental anxiety" he suffered.
The 39-year-old kosher butcher sobbed uncontrollably at Southwark Crown Court as the judge told him: "On any view that was a public nuisance of considerable proportions and was... bizarre and outrageous behaviour.
"On your own admission you were aware of the anthrax scare and of the general feelings of anxiety in this country and throughout the civilised world.
"Clearly this was an offence which could well justify a prison sentence."
But Judge Peter Fingret said he was satisfied Mr Goldstein had sent the letter as a joke and "did not intend the serious consequences which followed your stupidity".
The judge said that although the offence did contain a "high degree of recklessness" which merited "several months" in custody, "the courts are currently urged to avoid prison sentences wherever possible".
He said: "In your case I am satisfied you are unlikely to repeat this sort of irresponsible and criminal behaviour and a prison sentence would achieve nothing."
Acting Detective Chief Inspector Neil Hibberd welcomed the guilty verdict.
He said: "This was a disgraceful crime which diverted police and public resources at a time when members of the public were heightened concern following the terrorist activities in the United States and the UK."
Charges In Anthrax Joke
State Employee Indicted Again
By EDMUND H. MAHONY
November 7 2002
The U.S. attorney's office announced Wednesday that it has re-indicted a state employee in connection with a practical joke that caused an anthrax scare and created a daylong security drama in Hartford's Capitol district in October 2001.
In the new indictment, Joseph Faryniarz, 48, of Coventry, a longtime employee of the state Department of Environmental Protection, is accused by a federal grand jury of two counts of making false statements to federal investigators and one count of misprision of a felony.
In early autumn 2001, when the country was reeling from terror attacks and the still unsolved deaths caused by mailed anthrax, Faryniarz was the butt of a practical joke at DEP headquarters in Hartford.
Because of a series of unusual developments in the case, the intended target of the joke has become the only one arrested and he faces up to 13 years in prison. He is to be tried in December.
While Faryniarz was away from his desk on Oct. 11, 2001, someone placed a small amount of non-dairy coffee creamer on his desk, atop a piece of paper towel, on which the word anthrax was misspelled. Faryniarz reported the incident to his boss.
Faryniarz has said through his attorney that he did not see who put the powder on his desk and had no knowledge of what the substance was. But according to Faryniarz's lawyer, Richard Brown, after Faryniarz reported the incident, a co-worker stopped him and "basically begged" him not to implicate him in the hoax. The co-worker, who was not identified in court, told Faryniarz he had a wife and children and could not afford to lose his job.
For the next 48 hours, over a series of interviews with FBI agents, Faryniarz failed to tell authorities about the pleading co-worker. He also gave agents misleading information that could have directed their attention away from the co-worker. At the end of the 48-hour period, Faryniarz changed his story and was completely honest with investigators, his lawyer said.
Faryniarz is not and has never been suspected of putting the powder on his desk.
Faryniarz originally was charged with providing false information to investigators. Any chance to make a case against the prank's perpetrator probably was lost when U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft publicly called Faryniarz a liar and a coward. Even if Faryniarz were certain of the identity of the perpetrator, his credibility as a potential witness was destroyed.
What's more, the faux anthrax was lost by investigators.
handles anthrax scare
Nov 7 2002 12:00AM
By diana mackinen
Kemmerer (Wyoming) Gazette
An anthrax scare on Monday that could have been deadly serious, causing a wide spread panic to the community, was handled with great precision by the staff of the South Lincoln Medical Center.
A patient reported to the emergency room Monday evening with a letter that contained a mysterious substance. The staff believed it might have been anthrax. The emergency room staff jumped on the situation and immediately called the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office. The emergency room closed and the patient who brought the suspicious letter as well as staff who contacted the patient was quarantined.
On call at the time was Dr. Jean Williams. Another care provider was called and the emergency room was relocated to the hospital's recovery room. Both rooms were supplied with the same equipment for emergency procedures and the regular duties of the hospital were back in place almost immediately. Two Kemmerer police officers responded to the ER and they were also quarantined.
"We erred on the side of caution," said Marla Shelby, South Lincoln Medical Center Administrator. Tammy Smith, director of nursing of acute care, made several calls to various organizations. "We took the situation seriously and did everything we had to do," she said.
Lincoln County Emergency Management coordinator Georgia Walton contacted the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA). Smith also contacted Sue Pearson, Lincoln County Public Health Nurse, Jay Phillips, Kemmerer police chief and the Wyoming Department of Criminal Investigation in Cheyenne. Dr. Joseph Knight, the on-call pathologist, was also called in.
Knight advised the hospital to decontaminate the ER by scrubbing the ER with bar or face soap and water. Shelby said this treatment is the universal precaution for decontamination.
According to Smith, the envelope was sealed in two zip lock plastic bags and transported to a lab in Cheyenne via the law enforcement agencies for testing. As of press time, the lab had not forwarded the results of its tests.
"We not only wanted to protect our staff and patients, but we also wanted to protect our community. We cannot assume this will never happen to us because we are a small town," said Louanne Carmichael, Executive Director of Patient Care Services of South Lincoln Medical Center.
"We asked all the questions concerning anthrax but it really didn't act like anthrax," Shelby said. However, if it had been anthrax, Shelby said the hospital has enough antibiotics to cover the situation or at least begin the victim's treatment. Shelby said that although local emergency response was practically instantaneous, the one thing that the hospital discovered was that not all of the federal emergency organizations are as readily available to take action as they had previously thought.
letter hoaxer escapes jail term
An inmate of Perth Prison sparked a major anthrax alert at a sorting office after sending a letter to a friend.
The envelope, which contained the words: ‘Anthrax — open at your own risk,’ arrived at a Royal Mail depot in Edinburgh shortly after the full-scale emergency in America.
But it turned out to be a hoax and Greig Donaldson was told at Perth Sheriff Court on Wednesday that he was fortunate to escape a jail sentence.
Instead, Sheriff Lindsay Foulis ordered him to carry out 200 hours of unpaid community work.
Donaldson (25), Laing Place, Dundee, admitted sending the letter to Paul Dollan, 24 Rodd Road, Dundee, on February 8 and placing Post Office staff in a state of fear and alarm for their safety.
The court was told that the letter arrived at the sorting office at 10.30pm and because of the USA situation and the climate at the time, post September 11, it was taken “extremely seriously’.’
Fifty people were working in the building and the letter was put in a sealed container. A trained officer later checked it elsewhere but no trace of the deadly vaccine was found.
Depute fiscal Chris Mackintosh said that the authorities had no difficulty tracing who had sent the letter as the accused had signed the letter with his correct name and other details had also been printed at the top of the page. He was an inmate of Perth Prison at the time.
Police officers interviewed the accused and he explained it had been sent as a “joke’’ and in response to a letter he had received from a friend. It contained references to Afghanistan.
A solicitor for the accused confirmed it had been sent as a joke but now conceded it had been “sheer stupidity’’. The lawyer added: “It didn’t enter his mind that anyone would take it seriously. He wasn’t aware that the anthrax situation was causing so much hysteria in the world at large.’’
Inmates handed their letters to a prison officer and they were then passed on to another two officers for checking before it went to Royal Mail for delivery.
“I don't say that to lessen the accused’s culpability but perhaps this could have been nipped in the bud.’’
The accused and his friend had exchanged letters, which they thought to be humorous, but he now appreciated his hadn’t been a joke. It had turned out to be a bad joke but if he had intended to cause problems he wouldn’t have put his name and address on it.
Sheriff Lindsay Foulis said his first reaction had been that a custodial sentence would have been appropriate. It was a serious matter, having regard to the accused’s record, but community service was appropriate.
man gets 16 years for sending hoax anthrax letters
By The Associated Press
A Kanawha County man who sent hoax anthrax letters to President Bush, Gov. Bob Wise and two judges has been sentenced to 16 years in federal prison.
Edward Lee Lewis, 34, of Charleston was convicted in August on four counts of mailing threatening communications, one count of mailing a threatening communication to the president of the United States and being a felon in possession of a weapon.
U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin characterized the mailings as acts of domestic terrorism, and said he handed Lewis the maximum sentence Thursday in part because of his "unrepentant denial."
Lewis mailed the phony anthrax letters in January to Bush, Wise, Chief U.S. District Judge Charles Haden, Kanawha County Circuit Judge Charlie King and an unidentified Kanawha County resident.
The mailings resulted in the shutdown, quarantine and ventilation of the state Capitol Complex and the closure of several postal facilities.
Lewis used a former girlfriend's return address and text in her handwriting in the threatening mailings, U.S. Attorney Kasey Warner said.
After his arrest, Lewis gave phony anthrax letters to a fellow inmate at the South Central Regional Jail for mailings to another federal judge, who was not identified, and several of the original recipients, Warner said.
Warner said Lewis had scraped mortar from the cell wall, but authorities could not determine if it was an escape attempt or an attempt to obtain a powdery substance.
by Alison Swersky - Nov 8
A kosher grocer from Manchester who sparked a major anthrax scare at a postal sorting office after mailing salt to a friend escaped a prison sentence last week.
Appearing at London’s Southwark Crown Court for sentencing, practical joker Harry Goldstein of Stanley Road, Manchester, wept as he was ordered to perform 140 hours community service and pay prosecution costs of £1,500.
The 38-year-old was also ordered to pay £500 to postman Alan Owen, who handled the envelope from which the white crystals leaked, for causing “shock and temporary anxiety”.
At the height of the global anthrax scare last year Goldstein put salt in an envelope containing a cheque to business associate Abraham Erlich, managing director of J Schwartz Ltd, hoping to raise a “chuckle”.
But the “stupid joke” backfired when the white crystals leaked in a Wembley sorting office prompting the evacuation of a 110 workers, who had been warned about possible attacks following September 11.
The day’s second post also had to be cancelled, affecting around 31,000 businesses and households in the area.
In a four-day trial last month he explained that he was just “making light of the situation”. He said: “It wasn’t meant to represent anthrax. It was just a hint about the current situation. “
But Goldstein conceded: “The consequences were totally inconceivable. With hindsight it was just the most stupid thing to do.”
The married father of five was found guilty of causing a public nuisance and was warned that the severity of his actions merited a custodial sentence.
But Judge Peter Fingret told the court he was satisfied that he was “unlikely to repeat this sort of irresponsible and criminal behaviour”.
After being sentenced, Goldstein rushed from the dock to hug his pregnant wife Miriam in the public gallery. He refused to comment on the case.
DCI Neil Hibbard said: “This was a disgraceful crime which diverted police and public resources at a time of heightened concern following the terrorist activities in the United States.”
says friend innocent of threat
By BRUCE SCHULTZ
LAFAYETTE -- One of two Leesville women being sentenced Friday for making a telephone threat of anthrax at a Fort Polk facility told a judge that her friend was not a willing partner in the scheme.
Kathrine Howard, 24, told U.S. District Judge Richard Haik that her friend, Shajuana T. Bell, 23, of Leesville didn't know the true nature of the phone call or didn't believe it, even though Bell pleaded guilty too.
"I brought this on her," Howard told the judge.
Judge Haik sentenced Howard to eight months in prison, the maximum amount of jail time under federal sentencing guidelines, but he didn't impose any jail time for Bell, whose guidelines could have permitted a maximum sentence of six months.
Haik made his sentence for Howard concurrent with the year of jail she is now serving. Howard is expected to be released in January in connection with a revocation of a year's probation she received for a marijuana possession conviction. Her probation was revoked last year after she was indicted on the threatening phone call charge.
The judge said Friday he was prepared to send Bell to jail until he heard Howard's testimony.
He questioned why Bell pleaded guilty to the charge of helping make the threatening call, and he said he would never allow a person to plead guilty if an individual believes otherwise. Bell's defense attorney, Johnny Ghio, said his client wanted to put the case to rest.
Howard also told the court that Bell was ill and taking medication on Oct. 30, 2001, when the call was made.
"I did not believe she understood or knew what I was about to do," Howard told the court. "I believe if she did, she would have tried to stop me."
Howard pleaded guilty to making the call, and Bell pleaded guilty to helping her do it by giving her a telephone credit card. An outline of the case says that Howard made the call to a Burger King restaurant where she worked so she could celebrate her infant son's birthday.
Employees at the facility had to be decontaminated and take the antibiotic Cipro, and the government says the entire process cost the government $253,000. Haik assessed restitution for that amount for both women. He ordered Howard to pay $300 a month and Bell will have to pay $200 a month.
After they were interviewed by FBI agents in Louisiana, Thomas and Bell fled to Virginia, and they were caught by U.S. marshals.
But Bell insisted Friday that she didn't know she was in trouble when they left the state. She said she was going to visit a sick relative in North Carolina.
Haik said only a day after the phone prank, new federal guidelines went into effect that would have required several years in jail.
Howard broke down in tears when she addressed the court on her own behalf.
She said if she had it to do over, she would miss work and risk getting fired, and she said she would like to apologize to the people affected by her call.
Haik said he expects Howard will make more mistakes in the future and end up in court again.
"The smart money is you'll be back before me because you are going to mess up again," he said. "But I don't think you'll be dumb enough to do anything like this again."
Dumfries and Galloway Standard
The case against a Lochside student accused of an anthrax hoax has been abandoned.
Derek Walker was alleged to have left a pile of salt outside bedroom doors in a hall of residence at Stirling University, claiming it was anthrax.
Nineteen-year-old Walker, from Deegan Court, was charged at Stirling Sheriff Court along with fellow students, Giles Falkingham from York and Alistair Thomson from Carluke.
The trio had denied the charge of perpetrating a bio-chemical hoax in the wake of a series of anthrax attacks that swept America last year and were due to face trial on Friday.
But, in a sudden and unexplained move, the case was abandoned by the prosecution.
The three left the sheriff court smiling and laughing, accompanied by friends after depute fiscal Alastair McSporran announced he was deserting the case pro loco et tempore —- Scots law meaning for the time being.
That allowed the Crown the option of reopening the case at a later date.
On solicitors’ advice, the three accused said nothing as they left court.
When the trio, all undergraduates at Stirling University, first appeared in court last month it was claimed they caused a breach of the peace by leaving the salt, together with the note claiming it was a “biological chemical, namely anthrax” outside two students’ bedrooms in the Andrew Stewart Hall at the university on November 5 last year.
A charge of wasting police time which they originally faced was dropped.
The Crown had opted to downgrade the prosecution from solemn to so-called summary procedure which carried a maximum penalty of six months’ imprisonment for first offenders.
The incident last year came less than a month after Home Secretary, David Blunkett, announced emergency legislation making people carrying out hoaxes involving bio-chemical, radioactive or nuclear weapons south of the border liable to up to seven years in jail.
The powers were not extended to Scotland, however.
newspapers apologize for anthrax ad alarm
Mon Nov 18, 9:03 AM ET
LISBON, Portugal - Two national newspapers published apologies to readers Monday for causing an anthrax scare over an advertisement for National Geographic magazine which included an envelope containing talcum powder.
A message from the magazine inside the envelope of Sunday's editions said, "If this were for real, you could be infected with Anthrax 836." In smaller letters was a footnote saying the contents were talcum powder.
However, dozens of alarmed readers panicked and called the police, the national news agency Lusa reported.
The daily newspapers — top-selling Jornal de Noticias and Diario de Noticias — said they received numerous complaints from readers.
The ad aimed to call attention to a report in November's Portuguese edition of National Geographic on possible terrorist weapons.
Officials for the Portuguese edition of the magazine were not immediately available for comment.
However, Diario de Noticias quoted Pedro Araujo e Sa, head of the Portuguese edition, as saying the ad sought to alert readers to the threat of biological weapons.
In the United States last year, anthrax attacks killed five people and infected an additional 18. Letters laden with anthrax spores were mailed to media figures and congressional leaders.
No anthrax attacks were reported in Portugal, though police were called to numerous false alarms.
Liar Gets 30-Day Sentence
November 19 2002
A Torrington man who triggered a federal investigation by concocting a story that he overheard men plotting to mail anthrax just before the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks was sentenced Monday to 30 days in prison.
Robert Janco Jr., 36, had pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Hartford to making a false statement to federal investigators. His sentence also includes two years of supervised release, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
U.S. District Judge Christopher F. Droney said that, following the events of Sept. 11, 2001, "Janco's lies to law enforcement officials on three separate occasions were a distraction to law enforcement officials and constituted a serious crime."
Janco, of 86 Woodbine St., had told Torrington detectives that on Sept. 8, 2001, he'd heard two men of Middle Eastern descent discuss plans to have a Vietnamese woman in New York named Kathy help send anthrax-tainted letters through the mail. He told that story to police in early November, just days after Kathy Nguyen, a Vietnamese immigrant, died of inhalation anthrax in New York City.
Torrington police notified federal authorities. On Nov. 25, agents from the FBI and the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service raided apartments in Torrington and Winsted and took four foreign-born men into custody. The investigators found no evidence of anthrax, and eventually determined Janco's account was bogus.
With Threat Halts Mail Sorting
By MATT BURGARD
November 20 2002
An envelope with a threatening message written on it prompted the lockdown of the sorting center at the U.S. Postal Service's processing facility in Hartford Tuesday.
An employee who handled the envelope about 9 a.m. noticed a written threat, warning that hazardous materials were inside, postal officials said. They would not disclose the specific wording or whether the threat referred to anthrax.
The cavernous sorting room of the Weston Street plant, the state's largest mail processing facility, was immediately sealed off after postal inspectors felt a "lumpy" substance inside the envelope, officials said.
Wearing protective clothing, hazardous materials teams from the Hartford police and fire departments, as well as the state Department of Environmental Protection, secured the envelope and took it to the state police criminal laboratory in Hartford, officials said.
An analysis of the substance in the envelope determined it was not hazardous, officials said, though they declined to identify the material.
Shortly after the letter was discovered, an employee in the sorting room complained of chest pains. She was treated at Hartford Hospital and released, officials said.
Postal officials said they do not believe the employee's ailments were connected to the material found in the envelope.
The sorting room was reopened for normal business about 1 p.m. Tuesday. The facility's front lobby, where members of the public conduct routine business, remained open throughout the incident because it is shut off from the sorting room, officials said.
The U.S. Postal Inspector's Office, which is part of the newly formed national Joint Terrorism Task Force, is conducting a criminal investigation to find out who mailed the envelope.
Anthrax Hoax Case Goes to Jury
By Suzanne Nelson
A verdict in the trial of the Capitol Police officer who left a note and a white, powdery substance on his post at the Cannon subway a year ago could come as soon as today.
The jury received the case Wednesday afternoon after a week of testimony in U.S. District Court. Jurors were dismissed at 5 p.m. Wednesday without a verdict and will resume discussions at 9:30 this morning.
Officer James Pickett pleaded innocent to the charges of making false statements and obstructing police work. A 14-year veteran of the Capitol Police, Pickett has been on paid administrative leave since Nov. 7, 2001, when he allegedly left a note and the contents of an Equal packet on a desk in the Cannon House Office Building tunnel. If found innocent, he will almost certainly face an internal inquiry regarding his conduct.
The note - written in capital letters - read: "Please inhale. Yes this could be? Call your doctor for flu symptoms. This is a Capitol Police training exercize [sic ]! I hope you pass!"
Coming less than a month after a letter containing anthrax spores shut down Capitol Hill, Pickett's letter seemed to refer to the deadly substance, which often leads to flu-like symptoms when inhaled.
Defense attorney Eli Gottesdiener was reticent to the court last week about whether his client would take the stand, but Pickett testified on his own behalf Tuesday.
Pickett maintained that the note was a comment on the lack of training provided to police officers to deal with hazardous substances. He said he set up the note as a joke for a fellow officer, John Caldwell, and that he intended to throw it away when the joke was over - although he couldn't say for sure if he did.
Denying that he intended for the recipient to think the substance was anthrax, Pickett said he wrote the note in a hurry, meaning to say: "'Yes. This could be a Capitol Police training exercise,'" but saved the "training exercise" part for the end of the missive because: "It only makes sense to put the punchline at the end of everything else." Pickett also said he deliberately left the torn Equal packets on the table next to the note.
That, however, was disputed by the prosecution's witnesses and photos submitted as government exhibits. In her closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney Angela Gudrun Schmidt submitted to the jury that if the tops of the torn Equal packets were left on the desk, then Sgt. Gregory Turner would have picked them up with the note and powder when he arrived at the scene or they would have shown up in photographs taken by the Criminal Investigations Unit of the Capitol Police.
"They weren't there at the time - at least not in any place where anybody saw them," Schmidt said in her closing.
The blue packet tops allegedly left on the desk were photographed by officer Mike DeCarlo, the president of the police union, hours after the incident. (Although Pickett is not a dues-paying member of the union, the union defended his interests.) The defense submitted the partial Equal packets into evidence, but the prosecution made much of the fact that DeCarlo didn't let CIU know of his findings.
Throughout the trial, the defense pointed to the possibility that Caldwell could have put the note back on the desk after Pickett left the post - reconstructing the letter and white powder for another officer, Kari Morgansen, to find. Morgansen, who has since left the force, was the one who called for an official to respond to the incident.
The prosecution pointed out that if Caldwell had put the note back on the desk after Pickett left, he would have had to dig through the garbage and find a new packet of Equal to disperse next to the letter - all without Morgansen, who was manning the post with Caldwell, noticing.
The defense also put forth the possibility that the note was not thrown away but remained on the desk when Pickett left and that Caldwell - who admitted on the stand that he, like Pickett, was known to be a joker at times - could have lied to Morgansen when she found the note and said he didn't know what it was.
"Why wasn't Caldwell looking Sergeant Turner in the eye?" Gottesdiener asked, referring to Turner's testimony of Caldwell's evasive behavior when he arrived on the scene. "Why wasn't he forthcoming? Why is Caldwell asking for a lawyer?"
Lt. Tara Neeld testified for the defense that Caldwell wrote only three sentences when asked to give his statement of what happened. "I didn't know this was a joke. I had nothing to do with it. Any further questions, ask my lawyer,"Neeld said he wrote. On the stand, Caldwell denied writing the last sentence.
Caldwell was brought to testify again on rebuttal and said that he was told by various people in the department to say he knew it was a joke.
In closing arguments, both the prosecution and defense attorneys asked the jury to focus on the credibility of those who testified.
"There's one thing in this case that's very clear - and that's someone isn't telling the truth," Schmidt said.
Gottesdiener, in his closing, questioned the credibility of both Caldwell and Morgansen, calling the latter a "drama queen."
"You don't have to solve what's happened here,"he said. "You're not Columbo. It's not your job to say Pickett or Caldwell" is responsible.
Pickett is "not criminally responsible for the confusion [the letter caused the department] later on because Caldwell didn't 'fess up," he added. Pickett might have acted negligently, but not criminally, Gottesdiener said.
Pickett - who, the defense pointed out, has a brother who is a lieutenant, a sister who is a fellow officer and a father who spent 20 years on the force - expressed remorse for his actions when he took the stand:
"Looking back I can see how tasteless it was, but I was trying to make a comment," he said.
jail time for 2001 anthrax hoax
A Dallas woman pleads guilty and says she is sorry.
CARA ROBERTS MUREZ
DALLAS — A Dallas woman who scared Monmouth postal workers last year with an anthrax hoax will spend no time in jail.
Patty Riggs Jones, 52, pleaded guilty in Polk County Circuit Court to one misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct. She will serve two years probation, will do 120 hours community service and will pay more than $5,000 in restitution to the Monmouth post office and police department, Polk County Fire District 1 and a regional hazardous-materials team.
Federal charges against her were dropped as part of a plea agreement.
Although Jones’ crime happened before the passage of the federal, tough-on-terrorism USA Patriot Act last year, it is unlikely her case would have been treated differently had she committed the crime today, said Greg Nyhus, an assistant U.S. attorney in Portland.
There was nothing in the Patriot Act that changed the two laws under which Jones initially was charged, Nyhus said. Those charges were mailing a threatening communication and mailing a nonmailable substance.
Prosecutors considered Jones’ case less serious because she had mailed the substance to a friend as a joke, then renounced the threat by calling the friend before the envelope arrived. In addition, the substance was scented baby powder, and the person who was harmed was not the intended victim.
“If she’d done the same thing today, would she have been charged differently? I’m inclined to say probably not,” Nyhus said. “We feel it is a more appropriate forum to address that issue at the local level.
“It’s a local crime.”
The Oct. 13, 2001, incident occurred near the height of national fear about real mailings of deadly anthrax. It shut down the Monmouth post office after a mail carrier reported seeing white powder falling out of an envelope. According to the federal indictment, Jones had written “Antrax virus” (sic) on a piece of paper and mailed it with the powder.
Jones was arraigned, pleaded guilty and sentenced Nov. 22. She was apologetic and tearful when she told Polk County Circuit Judge Fred Avera that she was sorry, said deputy district attorney Mark Heslinga.
“I think we all agreed that this was stupidity, not anything done with evil intent,” Heslinga said.
The Patriot Act has come under fire recently from several city governments nationwide, Eugene among them. The Eugene City Council voted unanimously this month to oppose the act. Some people are concerned that it gives the government unchecked power and has the potential to violate civil rights.
U.S. Attorney John Ashcroft has called terrorist hoaxes costly, serious offenses that demand serious response. Jones’ indictment last year came one day after Ashcroft said his office would crack down on anyone issuing false terrorism threats.
At a U.S. Attorney conference last year, Ashcroft said, “Perpetrators of these crimes often claim that they are meant to be ‘just between friends.’ But the fact is, anthrax hoaxes do not long remain ‘just between friends.’ They involve serious diversions of resources from already taxed police, FBI and emergency response systems.”
But to prosecute Jones in federal court also could have been a drain on resources, Nyhus said, and inherent in Ashcroft’s statements is a commandment to be responsible in prosecution. It would have been difficult to prove in court that baby powder is a nonmailable substance.
Nyhus said Jones’ intent appeared to be different than a hoax at the state Capitol in September. In that case a white substance, which later proved to be neither anthrax nor smallpox, was mailed to Gov. John Kitzhaber. The incident forced evacuation of the building and delayed government business.
“Where there’s an intent to threaten and cause some kind of problem,” Nyhus said. “I think that is materially different.”
on Mon, Dec. 09, 2002
Anthrax joke victim faces trial as government tries to save face
BY EDMUND H. MAHONY
HARTFORD, CONN. - A year ago in early October, people everywhere were jumping at shadows. First there were terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. Then someone began sending deadly doses of anthrax through the mail.
Thus inspired, someone at the state Department of Environmental Protection in Hartford, Conn., decided to spring a joke that might be unmatched for unanticipated consequences: He left a spoonful of nondairy coffee creamer on a colleague's desk, along with a one-word, misspelled note identifying the powder as "Anthax."
So far, the joke has cost about $1.5 million.
It brought an army of police and bioterrorism experts to Hartford in cars, trucks and helicopters. It locked down the capital district for most of a day. Hundreds of state employees were evacuated. More than a dozen were hustled into trailers where they were stripped, bathed with decontaminates and forced to wear "DECON" suits. That attracted the attention of U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, who glared into the television cameras and condemned both terrorists and hoaxes.
Consequences continue to unfold 15 months later. But separated by time from the urgency of Sept. 11, 2001, some of those consequences have acquired a through-the-looking-glass feel.
Someone destroyed the evidence, the nondairy creamer. David Sattler, the department supervisor widely identified as the jokester, has managed to immunize himself against prosecution -- after Ashcroft said the best witness against him is a liar.
Joseph Faryniarz, on the other hand, the butt of the joke, is looking at up to 13 years in prison and a $3 million fine. His trial in federal court is scheduled to begin Thursday.
Faryniarz, who licensed garbage dumps for the department, has been indicted on three felony charges that accuse him of misleading authorities who were in a desperate rush on Oct. 11, 2001, to learn whether the coffee creamer was anthrax.
State police detectives and FBI agents suspected the white powder was supposed to be a joke. But they needed a definitive answer from the joker. If they could learn early enough that the substance was harmless, they could forestall an expensive diversion of public safety resources and prevent the costly shutdown of state government. As things turned out, the department's offices were closed for three days.
Senior officials in the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office say their prosecution of Faryniarz is not motivated by anger over wasted time and money or by a desire to protect the credibility of senior officials such as Ashcroft, who were then railing against hoaxes. Prosecutors will argue in court that Faryniarz knew Sattler was behind the joke, and not only ignored the repeated entreaties of investigators for information, but intentionally deceived them.
But even within the government, not everyone agrees. While asserting that Faryniarz acted irresponsibly, other officials, who discussed the case on the condition they not be identified, believe the hard line the government is taking is meant to justify Ashcroft's personal intervention.
Standing beside FBI Director Robert Mueller on Oct. 16, 2001, five days after the so-called anthrax joke, Ashcroft identified Faryniarz by name to reporters and said Faryniarz "lied to FBI agents repeatedly and attempted falsely to implicate two of his co-workers before confessing to knowledge of the hoax."
"As this case demonstrates," Ashcroft continued, "false threats of anthrax and other terrorist attacks carry high costs for consumers and taxpayers."
Ashcroft's remarks amounted to instructions that Faryniarz had to be punished, according to Faryniarz's lawyer, Richard Brown.
"Somebody has got to pay the price, as far as the federal authorities are concerned," Brown said. "And that somebody is Mr. Faryniarz."
Faryniarz, a 22-year state employee who is back at work after an extended leave with pay, says he has done nothing wrong. In legal filings and through his lawyer's courtroom arguments, Faryniarz has said he could not have known for sure who put the powder on his desk because he wasn't around when it happened.
At least one investigator suspects co-workers in Faryniarz's section of the department office saw -- or at least knew of -- the joker planting the powder on Faryniarz's desk. Afterward, anyone listening would have heard Faryniarz's surprise when he spotted the powder.
"Hey, come see what someone did," Faryniarz said, a receptionist later told the state police.
The receptionist told the police that she walked over to Faryniarz's desk, picked up the white powder, sniffed it and pronounced it "Cremora."
Faryniarz told his boss about the powder. The boss told Faryniarz to tell building security. Security told the building supervisor, who folded the powder up in the paper towel in his bare hands and walked through a maze of cubicles and into an elevator to deliver it to the building manager. Faryniarz was summoned to a lower floor in the office building to speak in more detail with security.
On his way downstairs, Faryniarz said, a nervous-looking Sattler intercepted him. Faryniarz would delay informing authorities about the encounter with Sattler for 48 hours, until after he submitted to repeated police interviews and flunked a voluntary FBI lie detector test. When he decided to be completely candid, Faryniarz told an FBI agent that Sattler, a supervisor in a department that regulates hazardous waste sites, waved him over and whispered that it was "just a joke and I didn't think you would react this fast."
Faryniarz claims in legal papers that he did not know then and still doesn't know whether Sattler was just kidding about being involved in the joke. Likewise, he claims he has never had any definitive knowledge of what the powder was. So he says he has been consistently truthful when telling investigators he knew nothing for certain about the prank other than it was probably just "a bad joke."
Local, state and federal police agencies, emergency response teams, hazmat units and fire department personnel arrived with biological and chemical emergency experts to hurry 800 employees out of their office building and decontaminate it. A state trooper ran the nondairy creamer down the street to a laboratory at the state Department of Public Health in the hope of learning what it was. That was the last the police saw of the evidence.
In the absence of specific instructions to the contrary, lab workers destroyed it after tests showed it was harmless.
Faryniarz was questioned at least twice. He did not disclose his conversation with Sattler. But he gave investigators the names of two co-workers who had a reputation around the office as practical jokers. Those two could have been responsible for the powder, he speculated.
Ashcroft claimed the speculation was an attempt to falsely implicate two co-workers. Faryniarz, through his lawyer, has a different explanation. He says he was trying to help the authorities by providing informed speculation because -- since he didn't see the powder being placed on his desk -- he had no way of knowing for certain what role, if any, Sattler played.
There is one point upon which Faryniarz and his prosecutors agree. The way the investigation of the anthrax scare unfolded, it is highly unlikely that anyone but Faryniarz will ever be charged.
"Because the government decided to arrest Mr. Faryniarz so quickly (and destroy his use as their only witness) and because they branded him a liar on national television, coupled with the government losing the one and only piece of material evidence, and because Mr. Sattler apparently has refused to talk with law enforcement agents, an arrest against anyone else seems highly unlikely," Brown wrote in a legal brief.
man arrested for making anthrax hoax
Friday, December 20, 2002
ORLANDO — A man was arrested Thursday for mailing an anthrax hoax to the Volusia County Soil Conservation office last year, federal authorities said.
Wayne Dale Allen, 38, of DeLeon Springs, was charged with one count of mailing a threatening communication. If convicted, he could be imprisoned for five years or face a $250,000 fine.
The indictment alleged that Allen, during the height of the anthrax scare in October 2001, purchased envelopes, notebook paper, a red marker and BC Powder, which is used for pain relief. Allen used the marker to write "BOYKIN and you other low lifes. Better watch your back. I'm watching you. Your wife and kids are next," the indictment said.
Allen put two packets of the BC Powder in the envelope and mailed it to the Soil Conservation office in Deland, federal authorities said.
A hazmat unit was sent to the Soil Conservation office and the white powder tested negatively for anthrax.
Allen had been in a dispute with officials at the agency over use of his land, authorities said.
Amy Hanly, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office, said she didn't know the details of the dispute.
No one answered the phone at Allen's DeLeon Springs home.
December 21, 2002
Anthrax hoax verdict: Guilty
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A state Department of Environmental Protection worker was convicted Thursday of making a false statement during an anthrax hoax that forced the evacuation of 800 workers from a state office building in October, 2001.
Joseph A. Faryniarz, 48, gained national notoriety last year when U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft used his case as an example in warning that the government would act harshly against those who help perpetrate anthrax scares.
Federal prosecutors said Faryniarz misled federal agents about the source of a white powder found on his desk next to a piece of paper marked "Anthax" on Oct. 11, 2001, one month after the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. He was not accused of putting the powder on his desk.
The hoax forced the evacuation of 800 employees from the DEP building, which remained closed for two days.
Faryniarz and others testified that he was the unwitting butt of a wildly miscalculated joke by at least one colleague. The power turned out to be coffee creamer.
Faryniarz, of Coventry, was convicted on one of three counts. He faces up to five years in prison and a fines of up to $3 million when he is sentenced March 10.
"We're very satisfied," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Attleton. "The right decision was reached. The jury was able to see the quality of the case."
Evidence presented at the trial strongly suggested that one of Faryniarz's co-workers placed the creamer on Faryniarz's computer keyboard.
Prosecutors claimed that Faryniarz knew who that man was, but kept the information from authorities for two days after the co-worker asked him to keep the secret.
Due to a confluence of events - including the inadvertent destruction of the powder at a state lab - Faryniarz was the only one arrested.
Prosecutors said they decided to arrest Faryniarz because withholding the information contributed to an expensive and, ultimately, futile investigation. They placed the cost of responding to the hoax at $1.2 million.
Faryniarz testified during the trial that his co-worker waylaid him in private and hinted, without being specific, that the powder and note were just an out-of-control joke. The man also whispered that he had a wife and family and couldn't afford to loose his job, Faryniarz testified.
Faryniarz also said that, after the two exchanged winks, he waited for two days before telling FBI agents and state police detectives.
Faryniarz said he had no way of knowing whether the co-worker had been truthful.
Faryniarz was acquitted on counts of withholding information and knowing a crime was committed but not reporting it.
One juror, Lynne Mardoc, said the panel struggled in determining whether Faryniarz was required to tell authorities all he knew, as soon as he knew it.
"It was a big consideration it was very confusing, because anybody in his circumstance would have been very confused with all of the trucks and all of the decontamination going on," said Mardoc. "It was very difficult, extremely difficult, more difficult than I ever imagined.
Defense attorney Richard Brown said it was unbelievable that the perpetrator of the hoax did not cooperate with authorities and was never charged, while Faryniarz came forward and faces prison.
"It's Alice in Wonderland turned upside down," he said. "The moral of the story is you better have a lawyer with you when you walk into the Federal Bureau of Investigation."
January 4, 2003
The Halifax Herald Limited
hoax targets gun registry
By Ken Trimble and Bob Weber / The Canadian Press
Edmonton - Tests were underway Friday to determine what was in a letter addressed to Canada's firearms registry that caused about 150 city postal workers to be quarantined for a few hours over fears about anthrax.
The workers at the west Edmonton postal sorting outlet were allowed to go home at about 2 a.m. Friday when it was determine the letter's powdery content wasn't anthrax.
It was the latest in several anthrax hoaxes involving letters addressed to the gun registry in the last year.
"It was a little scary," said a mail sorter named Iris, who was quarantined in the postal outlet's cafeteria.
"We were told it was a powder. It just gives you a lot of unsettling thoughts." Early tests done at the site ruled out anthrax, but the letter was sent to a lab at the University of Alberta to determine what it does contain. Results were expected within 24 hours.
The scare was a deliberate act, said Karen Carlson of the Edmonton fire department.
"It is obvious somebody put powder in these envelopes."
The gun registry has sparked heated demonstrations and acts of defiance, especially as a New Year's deadline for registering firearms came into effect.
Protesters have challenged police to charge them for not registering their guns, while officers in some jurisdictions say they won't go out of their way to hunt for unregistered weapons.
The gun registry in Miramichi, N.B., has been the target of previous anthrax hoaxes.
Sgt. Merle Campbell of Miramichi police said one envelope was found at the gun registry in the last two weeks containing a powdery substance. Two other pieces of mail deemed to contain suspicious material have been received at the centre in the last year.
In each case, the building was cleared and the material sent to a lab in Saint John, N.B., for testing. In all three cases, the material was harmless.
He said the gun registry has been under closer scrutiny by police.
"The officer that is assigned to this specific zone stays within a short distance," he said. "We watch for vehicles that may be close to the area. And there's no parking in around there."
Edmonton police Sgt. Pat Tracy said investigators will likely examine those earlier anthrax scares to see if there are any links to Friday's event.
"Any time we investigate a crime, particularly one with something that makes it unique or makes it stand out, we would certainly be paying attention to those cues," he said.
Edmonton police are likely to team with RCMP investigators as well, said Tracy.
"Any time that something like this would go on, particularly when we're dealing with something that may have national implications, and, for argument's sake, terrorism, you can be certain that we're going to be in partnership with all the police agencies that are around."
Anthrax is primarily found in animals, but it is potentially deadly if the spores are inhaled. Cough and fever typically appear within seven days, followed by severe breathing problems and shock. Without treatment, 90 per cent of victims die.
Edmonton police initially said tests had suggested Friday's letter was tainted by the deadly biological weapon.
But the positive test resulted from improperly calibrated equipment, said Canada Post spokeswoman Teresa Williams.
"Once they (fixed) that, they got three negative tests in a row," she said.
It wasn't the first time Edmonton postal workers have dealt with anthrax threats.
There were several hoaxes in late 2001, said Greg McMaster, president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers Edmonton local.
Union and management subsequently developed a procedure for handling such scares and that procedure - clearing the area, sealing it, evacuation and notification of workers - was followed Friday, he said.
"There's a feeling of unease about the whole situation," he said. "But on the other hand, we don't want to encourage anybody to panic like there's a constant danger with the mail."
Lynn Bue, the union's first national vice-president, said that if the letter-senders wanted to make a political point, all they accomplished was scaring a bunch of innocent people trying to do their jobs.
"There are so many bystanders that are hurt, and I don't imagine people are considering that when they're perpetuating these kinds of hoaxes," she said.
"It's dangerous, it's illegal and there are a lot of after-effects for people that are in workplaces when things like this happen."
Tracy said police had no information on where the envelope came from.
Workers at the sorting facility noticed dust rising into the air at the sorter around 10:30 p.m. Thursday.
"Emergency crews were called in as soon as the employees noticed that," said Carlson.
Employees in the building were not allowed to leave and those coming on-shift were not allowed to enter.
A mail sorter named Steve, who was also stuck in the quarantine, said the room they stayed in got extremely hot and a few of his colleagues who suffer from asthma needed oxygen.
But Steve said he wasn't worried: "Anybody in Canada die of anthrax yet?"
Wedge McWhorter arrived for his shift at midnight and ended up having to wait outside.
"It was unsettling at first," he said. "I thought there was an injury inside the plant but then when I saw all the (emergency) vehicles here, I knew there was something different."
No one at the postal centre was taken to hospital.
Williams said business was normal and a three-hour backlog in processing parcels and letters had been cleared by Friday morning.
There have been numerous anthrax scares in Canada over the past year, forcing the evacuation of buildings, factories, military sites, schools, courthouses and stores.
Five people were killed in the United States in 2001 and two dozen more became ill after coming into contact with anthrax through the mail.
Crocker has hand in anthrax scare
The Florida Keys
Inhabitants of City Hall on Simonton and Angela streets were holed up in their offices, restricted from leaving the building. Visitors approached the cotton-candy colored building and were immediately notified by a police officer on guard that entry was currently prohibited. The Key West Fire Department arrived on the scene, prepared to employ its new, high-tech methods of field testing.
It was a scene circa October, 2001 -- the days of unrelenting Anthrax scares and hoaxes -- as an envelope containing a suspicious white powdery substance initiated bells of alarm for City Hall employees. Unlike that harrowing fall, however, there turned out to be no need for embarrassing wash-downs or cosmic hazardous material spacesuits -- it was simply an unusual mix of baking and bill-paying by one Key West citizen.
It's better to be safe than sorry, and that's exactly how one City Hall employee from the Revenue Division felt after she opened the letter, which had been recovered along with the rest of the mail from the drop-off box in front of the building. Inside were two checks and two bills, with a local name and address, but there reportedly was also a suspicious texture and substance in the letter.
The employee immediately began informing others and called 911 for assistance. Around 9:30 a.m., the call was dispatched to Key West police and fire departments, informing them of the situation.
The fire department conducted a field test investigation -- using new equipment obtained after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 -- to determine if the substance was toxic. Immediate results proved negative. Officials determined the building was safe, and City Hall was back in business as of 10:04 a.m.
A follow-up investigation by the fire department revealed the real story behind the scary letter -- which turned out to be no hoax, but rather, a simple and unintentional combination of mail and meal. According to fire officials, the individual mailing the letter kept the bills on the kitchen counter -- where traces of cornstarch, flour and candle wax unknowingly found their way onto the documents.
building has anthrax scare
Envelope containing white powder forces closure of sixth floor
By Chris De Benedetti
Friday, January 17, 2003 - HAYWARD -- Sheriff's department officers ordered the top floor of the Eden Area Multiservice Center building evacuated and closed Thursday until the county can test white powder that was found in an envelope sent to the center.
Concerned that the powder may be hazardous, officers cordoned off the surrounding work area in the sixth floor of the building located in the 24100 block of Amador Road in Hayward on Wednesday evening.
Mee Lee Tung, director of Alameda County Environmental Health Services for the past six years, said the powder will be tested for anthrax spores.
After consulting with health officials Thursday morning, Lt Dale Toussaint of the sheriff's department said he ordered the entire sixth floor closed and sent deputies to tell employees that they needed to leave the floor immediately.
County employees, including staff members of County Supervisor Gail Steele's Hayward office, were either sent home or reassigned to a different building for the day, said police.
Work on the other five floors in the county building continued Thursday without interruption.
Police officers and health officials arrived at the county buil-ding just after 5:20 p.m. Wed-nesday in response to a call that a county social services employee had opened a legal-sized envelope filled with powder, authorities said.
"The substance is now being analyzed by the county's Environmental Health Services," said Toussaint. "All we know for sure so far is that it's a white powder. But we always err on the side of caution."
Toussaint, who is in charge of security for the building, said authorities are treating the case as a "special circumstance" investigation.
"Our investigation will track the mail's original path," he said.
The FBI has been contacted and advised of the investigation, but the sheriff's department spokesman said the investigation still remains under county jurisdiction.
Supervisor Gail Steele, whose Hayward office is on the building's sixth floor, said the incident forced her to cancel meetings Thursday afternoon. The disruption in her employees' sense of security was even more profound, she said.
"It's a concern to me. This is a big deal until we find out (what the powder is)," said Steele from her Oakland office. "I don't remember another scare that we couldn't determine almost immediately. But, I know the county is on it."
Wednesday's report was the first anthrax scare in the county since November 2002, said Tung.
The powder was handled at the scene by the Hazardous Materials Response Team from the Alameda County Fire Department, which picked it up from the sheriff's office in Santa Rita Thursday and delivered to the lab in Oakland, where it is being tested for anthrax, according to Tung.
In addition to the powder, clothing of the employee who opened the envelope and three other co-workers are also being tested in the county's Oakland lab, Toussaint confirmed.
Tung said this latest scare is the 83rd sample of suspected anthrax that has been sent to the county health public lab since November 2001 -- when such fears became somewhat commonplace following incidents of anthrax spores sent through the mail to members of Congress and members of the media. Five people died from anthrax infections and more than a dozen were infected with the disease.
The most recent scare took place two months ago in November 2002, but county lab tests have never detected anthrax in any of the 83 cases sampled, said Tung.
"But all the agencies are working together, we have a set of protocols and we make sure we respond to every single call," she said.
Until test results return, the sixth floor of the county building will likely remain off-limits to employees -- perhaps until after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.
"We'll know by Friday afternoon," Tung said. "We'll need at least 24 hours."
Contact Chris De Benedetti at (510) 293-2473 or firstname.lastname@example.org
And Weekly Herald
01/22/03 - Southwest Florida
Terror hoax was voodoo rite
In mid-October 2001, with people dying of anthrax sent through the mail, the black powder sprinkled on an administrator's desk at Integrated Health Systems in Port Charlotte looked like a terror scare.
But it turned out to be burned sweet potato, not some exotic bioterror toxin.
The penalty for violating state statute 790.166, "filing a false report of a weapon of mass destruction," is a second-degree felony carrying a penalty of up to 15 years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
And Tuesday, the perpetrator, Marinna Lucelly Arrazola, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of aggravated assault, a third-degree felony, in Circuit Judge Sherra Winesett's court in Punta Gorda.
Arrazola had originally pleaded not guilty to the hoax weapon of mass destruction charge.
Turns out that Arrazola was just exercising her First Amendment rights to freedom of religion -- in this case, voodoo -- at the wrong time and place, according to Assistant State Attorney H. Andrew Fritsch.
"When looking at the case, while some of the evidence pointed to using a hoax weapon of mass destruction, Arrazola confessed that she was actually practicing voodoo with regard to a Workmen's Compensation claim," Fritsch said. "That explanation was somewhat plausible, considering she was a 52-year-old woman without any prior criminal record."
On Oct. 18, 2001, a hidden video camera caught Arrazola sprinkling the carbonized tuber on the desk of IHS administrator Don Baker. The trap was set after Arrazola had earlier asked another nurse to spread some of the powder.
That nurse threw the powder away and told her boss about Arrazola's intentions. The facility's director of nursing then set up the hidden camera.
Practitioners of voodoo, an Afro-Caribbean religion, believe that substances like the burned sweet potato can be used in spells to influence the outcome of events.
Winesett gave Arrazola credit for two days in jail and sentenced her to 24 months probation, restitution of $303 court costs and Emergency Medical Service response costs to be determined.
Arrazola was also ordered to have no contact with Baker or co-workers Jane Cornwell and Elaine Powers.
Even if it turns out to be a hoax, the perpetrator of Sunday's anthrax scare at Charlotte Regional Medical Center could face a similar charge of hoax weapons of mass destruction, Chere Avery with the State Attorney's Office said Tuesday.
The hospital was searched after a 4:21 a.m. call warned of "anthrax in the building."
Verne Riggall, deputy chief for special operations with Charlotte County Fire & EMS, said his hazardous materials team was wearing protective clothing when it entered the hospital to retrieve two suspect cardboard boxes and a suspicious envelope found by hospital staff.
Test results are awaiting a 24-hour incubation period at the Florida State Department of Health laboratory in Tampa, said Robert Vincent with the Charlotte County Health Department.
"If it turns out it was anthrax, that's a whole horse of a different color," Avery said.
In a suspected bioterrorism incident, the state lab tests for three likely agents: anthrax, plague and tularemia, Vincent said. The first two are frequently fatal, the third, disabling.
Of the three, only plague, the "black death" that wiped out a third of Europe's population in the Middle Ages, is transmissible between humans.
Arrazola's incident happened at a time when the county was flooded with more that 100 bioterror hoaxes, including:
* A tiny amount of white powder in a letter brought the hazmat team to the offices of the Venice Gondolier Sun on Oct. 16.
* A 13-year-old Port Charlotte Middle School student was arrested Oct. 16 after a "stress ball" she was squeezing accidentally ruptured, releasing an unidentified powder.
* L.A. Ainger Middle School's media center was shut down Oct. 17 after the librarian found a gray powder on a table. It turned out to be chalk dust.
* On Oct. 20, four people at a convenience store were decontaminated after a woman found a white powder in the lid of a drink bottle she'd purchased.
None of the incidents was a real threat, but the numbers and mounting cost prompted Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Clement to issue a "get tough" policy on hoaxers.
You can e-mail Malcolm Brenner at email@example.com
on Sat, Jan. 25, 2003
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Medford man gets jail for hoax
The ex-courier received a 5-month
term for mailing packages of cheese marked "anthrax" and "smallpox."
CAMDEN - A former courier was sentenced yesterday to five months in prison for sending packages filled with grated cheese marked "anthrax" and "smallpox" that twice prompted the evacuation of an Airborne Express terminal in Massachusetts.
Roberto Gittens, who worked for the company at its Absecon facility, must also spend five months under house arrest after his release from prison under the sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge Stephen M. Orlofsky.
Gittens, 34, of Medford, lost his job after the hoaxes, which took place Oct. 29, 2001, at the height of anthrax fears across the country.
He pleaded guilty in May, admitting that he sent three packages from the Absecon facility to friends in Massachusetts: one contained grated cheese in a container labeled "anthrax;" one had grated cheese in a container labeled "smallpox," and the third had crumpled newspaper pages with stories about how anthrax had been mailed from New Jersey to New York and Washington.
Employees at his company's Newton, Mass., facility noticed an odor from the container labeled "smallpox" and called the local fire department, which evacuated the building for more than two hours and sent six workers home to take showers, according to court documents.
The fire department had the container tested, found that it was not hazardous, and returned all three to the Newton building about a week later. But when a worker opened another package and found the container labeled "anthrax," the building was evacuated for an hour, court papers said.
Monday, February 3, 2003
Rantoul man charged in connection with anthrax mailings
The U.S. Attorney's Office charged Rantoul, Ill., resident Kenner Bisch on Jan. 24 with making false statements to the FBI concerning its investigation of anthrax mailings.
It alleged that Bisch mailed an anonymous letter to the FBI explaining that a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers was a possible suspect for mailing anthrax after Sept. 11, 2001.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Cox said cases like Bisch's are not something they have to deal with on a daily basis.
Since the Oklahoma City bombing and last year's anthrax scare, there is an increased amount of bomb and anthrax threats which, Cox said, are a thorn in the side of the law.
Bisch's letter to the FBI was a part of a series of letters sent out to several people and organizations. The letters were designed to harass and embarrass the recipients, according to a U.S. Attorney's office press release.
Ross Rice, special agent and spokesman for FBI Chicago, said situations like Bisch's, in which the threats are sent through the mail, are traceable because of the postmark on the envelope.
Rice said it is illegal to send anything in the mail and say it's anthrax.
"There is always physical evidence such as hand or fingerprints or DNA from people licking the envelope," Rice said. "Then you focus on who is the intended victim and if there were threats in the past. Then it's a matter of charging them with the offense and using the evidence in a court of law."
Cox said paper trails are generally easier for investigations.
"When people send mail, it is harder to find them if they don't identify themselves, but then we have fingerprints and handprints that we can use," Cox said.
Because the threat of anthrax is still a large concern for the postal community, procedures are in place to inspect mail for possible dangerous material.
Postal inspector Silvia Carrier said the postal service has always had means to check all mail for biohazardous materials.
If employees come in contact with a piece of mail they believe contains biohazardous material or is just suspicious, they are told to immediately advise their supervisors and leave it isolated until either a fire department or private company can test the material, Carrier said.
Postal inspectors then usually visit a post office to make sure the area is secure and to prevent panic.
"There is a profile on what to look for and we take precautions for those with gloves and masks," Carrier said. "Sometimes material is sent to the FBI to be tested or it is tested on site."
Situations concerning anthrax or threats of biohazardous material are investigated in a joint cooperation with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the FBI, and the United States Attorney's Office.
The FBI is the lead agency because it has jurisdiction on terrorist investigations.
© 2003 Illini Media Company, all rights reserved.
Woman sentenced for Anthrax hoax
February 11, 2003
SCRANTON, Pa. -- A woman who participated in mailing 17 anthrax hoax letters -- including two to President Bush -- has been sentenced to 30 months in prison, officials said.
The letters containing a white, powdery substance were mailed to local, state and federal officials at the height of the anthrax scare in fall 2001, authorities said.
Rosemary Zavrel, 59, and Emily Forman, 27, mailed the letters and used two juveniles' names as the senders, seeking revenge for threats against Zavrel's son, U.S. Attorney Thomas A. Marino said.
scare forces evacuation of Faneuil Hall
By Donovan Slack, Globe Correspondent, 2/15/2003
Even though Boston isn't on the list of suspected terrorist targets this weekend, the heightened alert has frayed the nerves of so many in this seat of American patriotism that an envelope of rice, mistaken for anthrax yesterday at Faneuil Hall, sent people running for the exits.
The hall was closed for more than three hours after a young woman attempted to mail a bulky letter containing a half-cup of rice to President Bush from the post office there.
Business owners at the hall wrote the day off as a total loss, while employees lamented working in a climate of constant fear.
''This is getting out of control; it's all going a little too far,'' said 18-year-old Imani Abdur-Rahim, a Red Barn Coffee Roasters employee who only had time to grab her sweater and flee when the order to evacuate came in at about 11 a.m. ''I hate working knowing that I have to have fear in my heart. I don't want to have to wonder if I can survive the day.''
Yesterday's evacuation was the first since Sept. 11, 2001, but two bomb threats against the hall since then have left shop owners and employees on edge.
''It's always there, Faneuil Hall being the symbol of freedom that it is,'' said Red Barn owner Peter Femino. ''That's kind of where it all started.''
A post office clerk, Joe Forgione, said he charged the young woman $1.06 to mail the 4-ounce letter with a handwritten return address in Jamaica Plain. After she left, he noticed a tingling sensation in his hands and the presidential address on the envelope.
''Something like this, it's scary, really scary,'' said the 54-year-old military veteran who has worked for the Postal Service for 23 years.
The mysterious substance turned out to be rice, mailed as part of a ''Rice-for-Peace'' campaign launched by the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center in Boulder, Colo. The organization urged people across the nation to mail the president a half cup of rice with a note imploring him to send food, not bombs, to Iraq.
Forgione showed the suspect letter to a co-worker and notified police. A hazardous materials unit from the Fire Department rushed to the scene, along with police, FBI agents, and representatives from US Customs, the Postal Service, and the Secret Service, while evacuees huddled in restaurants and coffee shops at nearby Quincy Market.
Coincidentally, Mayor Thomas M. Menino was meeting at 11 a.m. yesterday with public safety officials in his office just across the street at City Hall to discuss the current state of emergency preparedness in the city.
''He watched the whole thing unfold from his window,'' said Carole Brennan, spokeswoman for the mayor. Brennan said Faneuil Hall is considered ''an obvious target'' for terrorism, leading to heightened fears there.
''Unfortunately, we can't still the workers' hearts,'' Brennan said. ''The mayor wishes he could say, `Everything's fine, go about your business,' but it's a mixed message. It's hard to say, `Do what you normally do, but always be on guard.' But that's the world we live in. It has nothing to do with Faneuil Hall or the city of Boston. We're all faced with these same problems.''
About two dozen musicians had been unpacking their instruments in Faneuil Hall in preparation for a Boston Classical Orchestra concert scheduled for yesterday evening when the order to evacuate came. Orchestra officials fielded calls all afternoon from concerned ticket-holders who learned of the anthrax scare from television news.
''Personally, I appreciate the effort of sending rice and the message it's trying to communicate to President Bush,'' said orchestra spokeswoman Carolyn Copp, who answered many of the calls. ''But it did nothing but heighten the fear and anxiety of hundreds of innocent romantics. Look at all the people who are impacted. Life had to come to a grinding halt.''
Officials took the suspicious letter to a state lab in Jamaica Plain for testing, where they determined that it contained only white rice. A white powdery substance that alerted the postal worker turned out to be a starchy residue, officials said.
The building was returned to its normal routine at about 2:30 p.m.
Donovan Slack can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
ruled out in powder found at Morris post office
Wednesday, February 19, 2003
LONG HILL - Tests have ruled out anthrax as the substance that fell from a letter at a post office.
The facility, in the Gillette section of the township, has been closed since the substance was discovered Friday. The office was to reopen today, said Tony Esposito, a spokesman for the Postal Service.
Esposito would not identify the substance, saying only that the state Department of Health and Senior Services had determined it was not dangerous.
Esposito would not comment on whether any suspects had been identified. The FBI and Postal Inspection Service are investigating.
The substance was discovered when powder spilled out from a padded envelope moving through a postmark machine. The envelope was addressed to a Pennsylvania resident and contained a threatening letter, Esposito said.
There were no postal customers in the office at the time, but five postal workers received prescriptions for the antibiotic Cipro, Esposito said.
Five stores adjacent to the post office were closed until 1 p.m. Saturday, and police recommended voluntary evacuations of several apartments located above the shops. Police said no residents left their homes.
New Jersey has been a focus of anthrax fears since 2001, when tainted letters bearing Trenton postmarks were addressed to NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw, the New York Post and the Washington, D.C., offices of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
Five people died and 13 others were sickened in the attacks. Five anthrax infections and two suspected cases - all but one in postal workers - were confirmed in New Jersey. There were no fatalities.
with white powder sent to four GOP lawmakers
Initial field tests for anthrax negative
Friday, February 28, 2003 Posted: 4:54 PM EST (2154 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Envelopes containing white, chalky powder were delivered to four Republican lawmakers Friday, but initial field tests were negative for the presence of anthrax, authorities said.
More tests are planned and an investigation is underway. One source said the FBI has picked up "three batches" of letters.
One congressional aide said he was told by Capitol Police there was nothing to worry about. But further tests, which could take up to three days, are planned to determine if the powder contained any anthrax spores that were killed in the irradiation process that all Capitol mail must go through.
One of the envelopes was sent to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, and the other three were sent to the offices of freshmen Republican senators: Georgia's Saxby Chambliss, Minnesota's Norm Coleman and Tennessee's Lamar Alexander.
John Feehery, a spokesman for House Speaker Dennis Hastert, said all of the envelops had a Seattle, Washington, postmark. The envelopes, described as normal business type, were received at the offices Friday.
A spokeswoman for the Capitol Police said the envelopes appeared to come from the same source because of the postmark, but none of them had a return address. She did not know if they contained any threatening messages.
Michelle Hitt, press secretary to Chambliss, said the envelope was opened at about 11:45 a.m. by a staff assistant. It contained a single blank, white sheet of paper, she said. When the assistant opened the letter, white powder fell into his lap. He immediately called police. There was no evacuation.
Chambliss' office is in the courtyard of the Russell Senate Office Building, a temporary location because of crowding.
At Coleman's temporary office, in the basement of the Dirksen Senate Office Building, an aide said the envelope was opened at 10 a.m. Chief-of-staff Tom Mason said the envelope was empty except for the white powder, which fell onto the shirt of the attendant who opened it.
After testing the substance, Capitol Police told staff members there was nothing to worry about, Mason said.
He described the reaction to the suspicious envelope as "terrific, calm and professional."
The envelope sent to DeLay's office was not opened as the staffer who handled it felt a "crunchy" substance inside and called authorities.
-- CNN Capitol Hill Producer Ted Barrett, Correspondent Mike Brooks and CNNRadio Congressional Correspondent John Bisney contributed to this report.
Springs man pleads to federal anthrax hoax charge
NAPLES DAILY NEWS
ORLANDO — A DeLeon Springs man pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to mailing an anthrax hoax letter as a threat to a soil conservation official.
Wayne Dale Allen Jr., 39, faces up to five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. He also will be required to pay restitution to Volusia County for the cost of its emergency crews' response to the letter.
Allen will be sentenced on June 5.
Prosecutors alleged that Allen, during the height of the anthrax scare in October 2001, put two packets of a pain relief powder in an envelope and mailed it to the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service office in DeLand.
A hazardous materials unit was sent to the office and the white powder tested negatively for anthrax.
Allen had been in a dispute with officials at the agency over use of his land, authorities said.
Allen's federal public defender, Fritz Scheller, said Allen was remorseful for his actions.
Faces Prison For Powder Incident
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Waterbury (AP) — A woman who sprinkled some white powder around a courtroom for good luck last year has had anything but.
Alexandra Gomez has been denied special probation on charges stemming from last fall's incident that touched off an anthrax scare.
Gomez had scattered white powder around a courtroom minutes before the start of her husband's drug trial.
Court officials were worried the powder might have been anthrax. It turned out to be crushed eggshells and cinnamon, a good luck powder she had bought locally.
Police and firefighters sealed off the room, quarantined five people and took them to the hospital.
Gomez was charged with breach of peace and reckless endangerment.
She had applied for accelerated rehabilitation, a form of probation available to first-time offenders that could wipe out her record.
Superior Court Judge Frank Iannotti denied Gomez's application Thursday.
“She endangered people in the courthouse,” said Waterbury State's Attorney John Connelly. “She endangered firefighters and the people who responded.”
The powder apparently didn't work.
Her husband, Luis Gonzalez, 32, was convicted on two drug charges.
THE WORD FOR FREED HOAX GUY
By JOHN LEHMANN
March 27, 2003 -- A carpet salesman facing a possible life sentence for sparking a fake anthrax scare was let off the hook yesterday because of one word in his threatening note.
Bharat Dewansingh admitted to jurors that he left a note for his fellow workers at ABC Carpet and Home saying, "Anthrax is Here," in October 2001 after the deadly powder was sent to several media organizations in New York.
But on the second day of his trial, Manhattan federal judge Robert Patterson dismissed the charges that Dewansingh threatened to use a weapon of mass destruction.
He said Dewansingh, 32, had not threatened "to use" anthrax because the note merely stated that the substance "is" in the ABC store.
If Dewansingh's note had said anthrax "will be" here, the judge would have been likely to allow the trial to continue, legal experts observing the case said.
Dewansingh's lawyer Alan Thau said his client was "relieved and grateful," but had been "put through the ringer" over the past 18 months.
Dewansingh, who immigrated to the United States from Suriname in South America seven years ago, said:
"I did something wrong, but I didn't mean any harm. Now I want to start my life again."
A spokesman for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Jim Comey said the decision was being reviewed to determine whether an appeal could be lodged.
Patricia Grant, manager at the carpet store at Broadway and East 19th Street, told the jury she was "shocked and surprised when she first discovered the note.
April 16, 2003
The Return of the Hoaxers
As U.S. embassy staff breathe a sigh of relief, the white powder worries continue around the world
BY JEFF ISRAELY | ROME
Thursday, Mar. 27, 2003
The apparent anthrax hoax is the latest in a flurry of white-powder alarms across the world since the war in Iraq started, with national security agencies on heightened alert for retaliatory terrorist attacks and worries about how effective their defenses would be should any of them turn out to be the real thing. The envelope opened by an employee in the consular visa office in Rome was handwritten and postmarked from another country in Europe, a U.S. official told TIME on Tuesday.
Authorities were alerted and a special Rome firefighter unit immediately sealed off the room. The substance was sent to a laboratory in southern Italy for analysis. Some would-be foreign travelers to the United States were temporarily stranded.
The embassy on Rome's historic Via Veneto has been under heightened security since the beginning of the war in Iraq, with added police and steel barriers set up around the perimeter. Public opinion in Italy is strongly opposed to the U.S.-led conflict in Iraq, though the country's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is counted as one of the strongest European allies in the war effort. Similar scares have been reported in Brunei, Borneo and Slovakia, at an RAF base in Britain, and last week at La Guardia airport. In all cases the substances have proved to be innocuous. But in the present atmosphere more alerts are expected.
Nowhere is there more caution than in the U.S. where Defense Department officals this week warned citizens not to send unsolicited mail to troops in the Gulf on account of the possibility of anthrax getting through. The recommended method of contact is through military e-mail sites. More alarming still for citizens of the U.S., the only country to have suffered a real anthrax attack in 2001, was research published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences warning that despite having the best detection equipment and response procedures, an airborne attack could cause more than 120,000 deaths in a metropolitan area with a population of about 13 million.
Furthermore, reports out of Washington, based on papers seized during the recent capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohamed in Rawalpindi suggest that al-Qaeda is close to having the capacity to produce anthrax and other biological agents. Real or not, bio-chemical terrorism is leaving its mark.
July 1, 2003
Woman gets 7-year term for sending faked-anthrax letters
By Debra Barayuga - email@example.com
A 25-year-old nurse accused of sending more than half a dozen threatening letters purportedly containing deadly anthrax spores apologized yesterday to everyone victimized by her actions.
"I was selfish and foolish and did not think about the consequences and the impact it has caused to many innocent lives," a tearful Sharon Cardenas said yesterday during a plea to the court for leniency.
But U.S. District Judge David Ezra, citing the seriousness of her conduct, sentenced Cardenas, of Kalihi, to seven years and three months in federal prison, the stiffest penalty possible under federal sentencing guidelines. She also will be placed on a total of five years of supervised release once she gets out of prison.
Cardenas is the first person in the nation to be convicted under the "weapon of mass destruction" statute that was enacted in response to terrorism in the early 1990s, said assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Sorenson.
Cardenas pleaded guilty last September to one count of mailing threatening letters and two counts of threatening the use of a weapon of mass destruction.
She sent the letters, pretending to be her boyfriend's mother, Caridad Berzamina, a housekeeper at a Waikiki hotel, to frame her for the offense. Cardenas apparently lifted Berzamina's signature off a birthday card she had received. Of 14 threatening letters she mailed between April 2000 and November 2001, about half contained a powdery substance.
Letters were sent to the main police station, the Kalihi station and to the Waikiki Beach Marriott, Berzamina's workplace. Businesses were shut down, people were evacuated and the Fire Department's hazardous-materials team was called to investigate after the letters were opened.
One of the letters Cardenas sent was addressed to herself, which she reported to police and cited as the basis to seek a restraining order against Berzamina.
The substance she placed in the envelopes was simply a mixture of baby powder, rat poison and fish tank granules, Sorenson said.
The first letter she mailed that contained a powdery substance was before Sept. 11, 2001, and the anthrax scares that enveloped the nation around that time, he said.
Cardenas sent other letters to her boyfriend's employer and to prominent members of the Filipino community, apparently to embarrass Berzamina, according to U.S. Postal Inspector Byron Dare.
But her reasons for doing what she did and her dislike for Berzamina remain unclear, Sorenson said.
Defense attorney Randall Oyama could not be reached for comment. He had argued for a sentence on the lower end of guidelines, saying she testified to the best of her recollection and that the record does not show her intent or willingness to obstruct justice.
The hotel had fired Berzamina shortly after receiving the letter but has since rehired her, Sorenson said.
Outside the courtroom, a Cardenas family member declined comment other than to say the family still loves and supports her.
in Anthrax Hoax in Court on Arson Charges
Lafayette Daily Advertiser
Suspect mailed more than 200 hoax bombs and anthrax scares LAFAYETTE, (Louisiana) - A man facing federal charges of mailing more than 200 hoax bomb and anthrax letters in Acadiana last year had his trial on state charges of arson postponed on Monday.
Stephen Michael Long, 38, of Rayne, faces 78 federal charges in connection with hoax letters sent in April 2002 to businesses, public officials and others, as well as e-mails that threatened law enforcement officials and judges.
He also faces state charges of arson with intent to defraud, for allegedly trying to burn down his house to get insurance money.
The alleged arson occurred was unrelated the anthrax hoax but occurred during the time Long allegedly sent out the letters and e-mails.
State prosecutor Luke Edwards said that Long's trial are the arson charges will be postponed until the federal case is resolved.
Long - who has been in and out of mental hospitals since the age of 12 - is set to go to trial in federal court on Oct. 20. His attorney has said he is considering an insanity defense.
Anthrax Note Not a Threat, Judge Rules
By BENJAMIN WEISER
A federal judge in Manhattan has dismissed charges against a woman who created a note that said "Anthrax is here," referring to the store where she worked, saying that under the law, the note's wording did not constitute a threat to use anthrax.
The woman, Evelyn Taylor, had admitted creating the note in October 2001, prosecutors said, because she was angry with her employer, ABC Carpet and Home. She was charged with threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction.
But the judge, Robert P. Patterson Jr. of Federal District Court, ruled that the wording, while it may have inspired fear in the ABC store at 888 Broadway where she worked, did not constitute a threat of future conduct, as the law required.
The ruling, which is dated last Friday, is the second time Judge Patterson has addressed the question of whether Ms. Taylor's note, which was created with letters cut out from newspapers or magazines, constituted a threat to use a weapon of mass destruction.
Last spring, Judge Patterson ordered the acquittal of one of Ms. Taylor's co-workers, who was also charged. The co-worker, Bharrat Bhusan Dewansingh (whose first name is also spelled Bharat in court documents), was accused of distributing a copy of Ms. Taylor's note in the ABC store.
The incident, which occurred around the time of genuine and suspected anthrax attacks in New York and elsewhere, led to a partial evacuation of the store and fear among employees, the government said.
In the co-worker's case last spring, the judge ruled, "There's no evidence that has been presented that indicates in any way that anyone was going to do an act to spread anthrax." The note stated that the anthrax was already there, the judge said, adding that "would not constitute a violation of the statute."
After Judge Patterson's earlier ruling, the government asked for a ruling before Ms. Taylor's trial. The United States attorney's office said it was studying the opinion.
Ms. Taylor's lawyer, Neil S. Cartusciello, said, "Judge Patterson did something here that's both courageous and intellectually honest."
charged in anthrax hoax to plead guilty
Friday, September 19, 2003
By Torsten Ove, Post-Gazette Staff Writer
At the height of the nationwide anthrax panic in the fall of 2001, 19-year-old Chad Michael Olson sent an envelope addressed to himself at the Salvation Army office in Washington, Pa., where he worked.
When secretary Jeannie Owens opened it, a white substance spilled out of a letter that read: "This is for you."
Chaos ensued as police, a hazardous materials team, the fire department and finally the FBI responded.
Olson eventually confessed and told agents the stuff wasn't anthrax, just sugar.
Even so, he was charged with the federal crime of threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction.
Now, after exhausting all options in fighting the indictment, he will appear in U.S. District Court on Monday and plead guilty.
His decision came yesterday after a hearing at which his lawyer tried to convince Senior U.S. District Judge William Standish that the incident was just a hoax and not a true threat.
In arguing her motion to dismiss the indictment, federal public defender Crystina Kowalczyk said because the letter contained no "threat of future conduct" the charge shouldn't apply.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Margaret Picking argued that it should.
"What we have here is a threat to spread anthrax at the Salvation Army," she said. "Mr. Olson did make a threat. He made a threat to use a weapon of mass destruction."
"I think it's a threat and I'm denying the motion," he said.
Monday's plea will end a bizarre case that began Oct. 18, 2001, when Owens opened the letter.
Olson, now 21, of Hawkins Street in Washington, sent the envelope because he wanted to be a hero to his co-workers. Jennifer Lohr, a Salvation Army receptionist, previously testified that Olson told her he had hoped the letter would create a panic so he could then put everyone's fears to rest by showing that it was only sugar.
Olson was previously released on $10,000 bond, but he didn't stay out of trouble. On March 5, Donegal police charged him with rape, statutory rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and other sex offenses in connection with an assault on two boys last summer.
Because that offense occurred while he was out on bond in the federal case, the U.S. attorney's office asked that his bond be revoked. Standish didn't revoke the bond but ordered Olson to stay at home on electronic monitoring.
The state case is pending.
employees fired for anthrax hoax
2001 prank cost officials $1.5 million
Tuesday, November 4, 2003
By LAURA WALSH
HARTFORD, Conn. - Two state workers were fired yesterday over a 2001 anthrax hoax that forced the evacuation of more than 800 employees from an office building.
Joseph Faryniarz and David Sattler were dismissed by Connecticut's Department of Environmental Protection for engaging in an activity which is "detrimental to the best interests of the agency or the state," said commissioner Arthur Rocque.
Faryniarz was convicted last December of lying to federal agents about the source of a white powder found on his desk next to a piece of paper marked with the misspelled word "anthax" on Oct. 11, 2001.
The hoax occurred around the time when anthrax-laced envelopes mailed to government and media offices killed five people and sickened 17 others.
The agency's headquarters was closed for two days after the evacuation. Government officials estimated it cost $1.5 million to respond to the hoax.
Faryniarz and others testified that Sattler placed powdered coffee creamer and the misspelled label on Faryniarz's computer keyboard, apparently as a joke.
Prosecutors claimed that Faryniarz kept the information from authorities for two days after Sattler asked him t o keep the secret.
Sattler was never charged with a crime. He refused to answer questions at Faryniarz's trial and a disciplinary hearing, citing his 5th Amendment rights against self-incrimination.
Faryniarz was ultimately spared jail time. In May, U.S. District Court Judge Alfred Covello sentenced him to one year of probation and ordered him to pay a $100 fine. The judge also praised Faryniarz for eventually coming forward with the information and said he had been through enough punishment.
Faryniarz's lawyer, Richard Brown,
has said he would appeal. The union also planned to file a grievance with
the state's Office of Labor Relations.
Fires 2 For Roles In Anthrax Hoax
By LAURA WALSH
Hartford— The state Department of Environmental Protection on Monday fired two workers who were found to have been involved in an October 2001 anthrax scare at the agency.
Joseph Faryniarz and David Sattler were dismissed for engaging in an activity that is “detrimental to the best interests of the agency or the state,” DEP Commissioner Arthur J. Rocque Jr. said.
Faryniarz, a DEP employee for nearly 25 years, was convicted last December of lying to federal agents about the source of a white powder found on his desk next to a piece of paper marked with the misspelled word “anthax” on Oct. 11, 2001. He received probation, while Sattler was not charged with any crime.
Faryniarz and others testified that Sattler placed powdered coffee creamer and the misspelled label on Faryniarz's computer keyboard, apparently as a joke.
The scare forced the evacuation of more than 800 employees from the agency's Hartford headquarters, which remained closed for two days. Government officials estimated it cost $1.5 million to respond to the hoax.
Faryniarz, 50, of Coventry, said he was disappointed with the DEP's decision. His lawyer, Richard Brown, said he plans to appeal.
“I look back at this whole situation and I just shake my head,” Faryniarz said. “I just went to work one day as an average Joe, so to speak, and my life turned upside down, inside out.”
Sattler's attorney, Jonathan Gould, declined to comment and would not say if he planned to appeal the firing. Sattler, 47, of Colchester, could not be reached to comment; no one answered his home phone Monday evening.
The Connecticut State Employees Association is asking Gov. John G. Rowland to overturn the DEP's decision.
“All of us are extremely disappointed with the action the commissioner took today and the way he did it,” said CSEA President Michael J. O'Brien. “We don't feel Joe should be scapegoated for what went on two years ago.”
The union also planned to file a grievance with the state's Office of Labor Relations.
John Wiltse, a spokesman for Rowland, said it would be “improper for the governor to intervene in an internal agency personnel matter.”
If he could change anything about what happened, Faryniarz said he would have spoken to authorities earlier.
“I obviously would have told the authorities ... things that they found out later. I would have told them upfront,” he said.
Prosecutors claimed that Faryniarz kept the information from authorities for two days after Sattler asked him to keep the secret.
“While Mr. Faryniarz has been portrayed as the ultimate victim, the fact is, by his own admission, he knew from virtually the outset that the incident was a hoax,” Rocque said in announcing the firing.
The powder was destroyed in a state lab and Sattler was never charged with a crime. Sattler refused to answer questions at Faryniarz's trial and a disciplinary hearing, citing his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.
“As a result, the only information available to the personnel officers conducting the investigation from which to base a recommendation was Mr. Faryniarz's undisputed statement,” the DEP said in a news release.
Faryniarz was ultimately spared jail time. In May, U.S. District Judge Alfred V. Covello sentenced Faryniarz to one year of probation and ordered him to pay a $100 fine. The judge also praised Faryniarz for eventually coming forward with the information and said he had been through enough punishment.
Rocque, however, said “such a breathtakingly stupid lack of judgment cannot go unpunished.”
“They were both long-standing employees with good records,” he said, “and it seems kind of a shame that the hallmark of their career would be this one incident.”
investigate suspicious letter sent to TV station
November 12, 2003, 11:58 AM EST
WOODBURY, N.Y. (AP) _ Preliminary tests were negative Wednesday on an envelope containing a white powder that was sent to a Long Island cable television news station, police said.
The envelope, containing Pakistani postage, was opened by an employee at Cablevision station News 12 Long Island at about 4 a.m. Wednesday, said Lt. Kevin Smith, a spokesman for the Nassau County Police Department.
Initial tests on a white powder found inside the envelope were negative; results of further testing were expected in 24 hours, he said.
A spokesman at News 12 Long Island was not immediately available for comment.
The incident caused New York City police to send an advisory Wednesday morning to media outlets cautioning them about opening suspicious mail.
Two years ago, five people died and 18 were infected when white powder containing anthrax was sent through the mail.
Letters containing anthrax were
sent to the offices of Sens. Tom Daschle of South Dakota and Patrick Leahy
of Vermont, and to television news anchors Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather. Another
was sent to the New York Post.
Police investigate powder letter sent to Long Island TV station
By FRANK ELTMAN
November 12, 2003, 7:16 PM EST
GARDEN CITY, N.Y. -- The FBI was investigating envelopes containing white powder that were opened at news organizations on Long Island and in Washington, D.C., and at two other locations.
Preliminary tests indicated the powders were not hazardous, authorities said. The envelopes contained postage stamps from Pakistan.
On Long Island, the letter was sent to cable television news station News 12 Long Island, police said.
That envelope was opened by an employee at the news station at about 4 a.m. Wednesday, said Lt. Kevin Smith, a spokesman for the Nassau County Police Department. The employee, a female intern, did not require medical treatment.
Later Wednesday, The Washington Post's downtown building was shut for about an hour after a woman opened an envelope containing a white powder.
Letters containing white powder also were delivered to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and a Denver location believed to be a radio station. All tested negative for anthrax or other pathogens, the FBI said Wednesday.
Debbie Weierman, spokeswoman for the FBI's Washington field office, said the letters appeared to be identical.
"The content of each letter is anti-American and pro-Muslim," she said. "All initial field tests have turned out to be negative."
The mailing to the Long Island news station caused New York City police to send an advisory Wednesday morning to media outlets cautioning them about opening suspicious mail.
"Our No. 1 priority is the safety of our employees," said News 12 Long Island spokeswoman Deborah Koller-Feeney. "We are working closely with the proper authorities to resolve this matter, and with their guidance taking all appropriate precautions."
Two years ago, five people died and 18 were infected when white powder containing anthrax was sent through the mail.
Letters containing anthrax were
sent to the offices of Sens. Tom Daschle, of South Dakota, and Patrick
Leahy, of Vermont, and to television news anchors Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather.
Another was sent to the New York Post.
Suspicious Envelopes Delivered to CDC
By Associated Press
November 12, 2003, 8:17 PM EST
WASHINGTON -- Letters containing a suspicious white powder were delivered to The Washington Post, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and at least two other locations. All tested negative for anthrax or other pathogens, the FBI said Wednesday.
Debbie Weierman, spokeswoman for the FBI's Washington field office, said all the letters appeared to be identical.
"The content of each letter is anti-American and pro-Muslim," she said. "All initial field tests have turned out to be negative."
Letters also were delivered to a Long Island, N.Y., cable TV station and a Denver location that Weierman said was believed to be a radio station. The Post and CDC letters arrived Wednesday, Weierman said. The Denver letter was delivered Nov. 4, FBI Special Agent Ann Atanasio said.
on Sat, Jan. 03, 2004
Frame-up claimed in anthrax hoax-letter case
A woman charged with sending an anthrax hoax letter claims her ex-boyfriend framed her so she wouldn't testify against him at a criminal trial.
By NOAH BIERMAN
More than two years after the anthrax scare prompted mail carriers to don surgical masks, a Broward criminal case is recalling just how difficult it is to figure out exactly what's being sent in the mail and who's sending it.
At issue: a fake anthrax letter that was laced with sugar and flour meant to cause a scare.
Yasmin Sealy-Doe, 26, of North Lauderdale, was charged with sending the fake stuff to scare an ex-boyfriend in late 2001. Now she says she was actually the victim of a frame-up.
In court documents, she argues that the boyfriend, Sidney Fertil, sent the letter to himself because he wanted her in jail. And she has a witness who claims Fertil admitted to it.
''This isn't the tap-in case that everybody thought when it started,'' said defense attorney Michael Dutko.
The letter in question was discovered by postal workers Oct. 25, 2001 -- within weeks of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and America's first anthrax death in decades. Bob Stevens, a photo editor for The Star tabloid, died after inhaling anthrax mailed in a letter sent to the headquarters of American Media in Boca Raton.
As a handful of others made contact with the germ through the mail, people all over the country were having their mail inspected or turning it over to authorities to check suspicious white powders.
Worried postal workers even were sent memos explaining that Harry Potter wizard kits, ordered in the mail, were safe for delivery.
The FBI still has not arrested anyone in the string of anthrax deaths and infections.
But others, including Sealy-Doe, were arrested and charged under a stiff Florida law that made it a crime to send ``hoax weapons of mass destruction.''
Her trial is scheduled for next week, though it will probably be delayed. If convicted, she faces up to 15 years in prison.
When she first met with investigators, Sealy-Doe told them that she in fact sent the letter and wanted to scare ex-boyfriend Sidney Fertil. Her lawyer, Michael Dutko, said the confession was coaxed under false pretenses. But Broward Circuit Judge Peter Weinstein ruled it was a valid confession and may be used at trial.
Police spoke with Sealy-Doe a week before she was scheduled to testify against Fertil in a criminal trial where he faced life in prison, according to court documents filed by Dutko.
Sealy-Doe believed she was going to the station to talk about that case, and was confronted with allegations about the anthrax letter when she arrived, Dutko argues in court papers.
Dutko said Fertil sent the letter to himself, so that Sealy-Doe would be jailed and unable to testify at Fertil's trial.
If he was framing Sealy-Doe to save himself, it worked. Prosecutors dropped eight felony counts -- including burglary, grand theft and stalking counts -- against Fertil a week after Sealy-Doe was arrested, Nov. 1, 2001.
Neither Fertil's defense lawyer, Michael Mirer, nor prosecutor Jeannette Camacho could be reached Friday for comment.
Sealy-Doe's story is backed by a key witness, Dena White, who also once dated Fertil. In a sworn statement, she told investigators Fertil admitted he framed Sealy-Doe.
''He did it to get back at her because she made him, she put him in jail for domestic violence,'' White testified.
White is now out of the country; jurors will learn about her testimony from a tape.
Weinstein ruled jurors may hear the testimony, even though criminal trials usually require witnesses to appear in person. An appeals court in West Palm Beach upheld Weinstein's ruling this week.
The letter itself promises to be the centerpiece of the trial. It contains only five words: ``Sidney are you afraid ANTHRAX''
The first four words are cut out and pasted, apparently in Sealy-Doe's handwriting, while the word anthrax is cut out from a typed source. Dutko accuses Fertil of cutting and pasting the words from documents he had access to.
found guilty in anthrax hoax that slowed down city
January 10, 2004
LAFAYETTE — A man who mailed more than 200 letters containing bomb and anthrax threats was convicted Friday on 78 federal charges in a domestic terrorism scare that wreaked havoc here in April 2002.
After a three-day trial, it took the jury roughly an hour to return a unanimous guilty verdict against Stephen Michael Long, 39, of Rayne.
Long, who never denied mailing the hoax letters, said that his goal was to better society.
“If what I did might save lives in the future by guiding a system to see its weaknesses and failures, I do not apologize,” said Long in a three-page handwritten statement released after the verdict.
Long, who has a history of mental illness and sexual abuse, faces up to life in prison when sentenced on the charges.
“Even if you’re a victim of child abuse, it does not give you the right to wreak havoc on so many people,” prosecutor Jim McManus told jurors in closing arguments.
Long had pleaded insanity, but U.S. District Judge Donald Walter ruled against allowing the jury to consider a not guilty by reason of insanity verdict. The judge said that Long’s attorneys had not met the legal requirement to establish a possibility that Long didn’t know right from wrong and the time of the crime — the legal standard for insanity.
The ruling essentially left Long with no defense because he had taken the stand and admitted to nearly all of the allegations.
“I think society, in general, is outraged, and it (the ruling on insanity) made it even more problematic to defend this case,” said one of Long’s two attorneys, David Willard.
Long’s letters were an eerie sight after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the anthrax attacks that followed. The letters sent by Long threatened that 25 bombs had been placed around Acadiana and contained a white powder, which was later found to be harmless.
Recipients testified that they feared the substance was anthrax. Long said that it was baby powder, “just to remind people about the kids.”
Most of the letters were received on April 19, 2002, and by that afternoon, every post office in town was closed; workers were evacuated from several businesses and government buildings; and dozens of letter recipients were forced into quarantine while waiting to be decontaminated.
“He wanted to bring the system to its knees,” prosecutor Howard Parker said.
Taking the stand in his own defense for an hour, and stuttering must of the time, Long said he acted in the interest of society.
“It’s your job to test the system to find the weaknesses,” Long recalled voices in his head telling him.
Long also said he had predicted the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the early 1990s but the FBI ignored his warnings.
“It could have been prevented, maybe if people had listened,” he said.
The former nurse said he had been sexually abused throughout his youth, first by a relative, then by a karate instructor and later in life by patients at a mental hospital where he was treated.
Long, who has been diagnosed as being prone to psychotic episodes and having a gender identity disorder, said law enforcement officials never pursued his abusers and counselors never helped him.
“He has had these problems since he was a child and no one has been able to help him,” psychologist Ted Friedberg testified. “Then he thinks not only that people can’t help him, but that there is a plot not to help him.”
Long said that in addition to “national security” reasons, he mailed the letters to bring attention to his torment from sexual abuse and that of other children.
“For all the abuse I went through, to bring attention to society,” he said in giving one of several reasons he mailed the letters.
Though Long’s attorney had argued that the man was suffering from a psychotic episode, prosecutors pointed to the methodical way he went about planning the hoax.
Long admitted wearing gloves so he would not leave fingerprints on the letters, using self-adhesive stamps and envelopes so as not leave saliva for DNA sampling and dropping the letters off in batches at different post offices to avoid suspicion.
No sentencing date has been set in the case.
©The Lafayette Daily Advertiser
on Wed, Feb. 11, 2004
The Miami Herald
acquitted in anthrax hoax
A jury took two and a half hours to acquit a North Lauderdale woman of mailing a hoax anthrax letter to an ex-lover.
Jurors left the courthouse without commenting on their decision. Had Yasmin Sealey-Doe been convicted, she would have faced up to 15 years in prison.
The 26-year-old woman claimed she was framed by her ex-boyfriend because she was a witness against him in another criminal matter that could have put him in prison for life.
Postal workers in Pembroke Pines discovered a letter leaking white powder in fall 2001, at the height of the nation's anthrax scare. The substance turned out to be sugar and flour, but the scare forced officials to close the post office for two days.
The suspicious letter was addressed to Sidney Fertil, who immediately pointed the finger at Sealey-Doe when investigators confronted him.
''He appeared too eager to blame this on Yasmin,'' said defense attorney Michael Dutko.
Sealey-Doe declined to comment as she left the courthouse.
gets 30 years in anthrax hoax
The Associated Press
LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — The man who admitted sending hundreds of bomb threats, some of which also were anthrax hoaxes, was sentenced to 30 years in prison by a federal judge on Monday.
Stephen Michael Long, 39, of Rayne, was convicted last month on 78 federal charges. He never denied mailing the hoax letters, many of which held harmless white powder. He said he did it to improve society by highlighting the weakness of anti-terrorism efforts.
Long, who has a history of mental illness and says he was sexually abused as a child, also said he wanted to bring attention to sexual abuse of children.
The maximum sentence would be life in prison, but first offenders rarely get the maximum under federal sentencing guidelines.
But U.S. Attorney Don Washington pushed for a stiff sentence nonetheless.
"Mr. Long presented himself as an international terrorist. His acts caused federal, state and local officials to respond to the potential for widespread destruction and loss of life," Washington said. "The fact that his acts were a hoax makes little difference to our response and to the sentence he received."
Just the cost of testing various letters for anthrax ran more than $35,000, Washington said.
U.S. District Judge Donald E. Walter also sentence Long to five years supervised release following completion of his prison sentence.
Long's letters, sent shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., said 25 bombs had been placed around Acadiana.
Several businesses and government buildings were evacuated and about 20 people sought emergency care, fearing that they had been exposed to anthrax.
Postal Workers Intercept Anthrax Hoax Letters
POSTED: 8:07 am EDT June 14, 2005
ASBURY PARK, N.J. -- Postal workers in Asbury Park have intercepted several letters that contained the word "anthrax" on a single sheet of paper inside.
The FBI in Newark said the letters were mailed to schools, government agencies and private businesses.
None of the letters tested positive for the biological agent.
The FBI isn't saying to whom the letters were addressed for fear of causing a copycat situation.
investigates wave of anthrax hoax letters in Jersey
Saturday, June 18, 2005
BY JOHN P. MARTIN
Federal agents are investigating a series of anthrax hoax letters that have been mailed to schools, government agencies and private businesses in New Jersey in recent weeks.
Most of the letters were intercepted by postal workers before being delivered and none was found to contain any biological agents.
Each envelope contained a single sheet of paper with the word "ANTHRAX" written on it and visible through the sealed envelope. Many were sent to incomplete addresses and had no return addresses.
The letters were described in an alert sent to educators by the FBI and obtained by The Star-Ledger. The alert said agents from the FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service are investigating the threats and encouraged anyone with information to call the FBI.
FBI Special Agent Steven Siegel, a spokesman for the bureau's Newark division, acknowledged the investigation but declined to elaborate. He said releasing details might encourage copycats and make the probe more difficult.
But Siegel said the postal workers who detected the letters followed proper procedure for handling and separating such items. "They followed the strict protocol," he said.
Anthony Esposito, a spokesman for the postal inspection service, deferred all questions on the matter to the FBI.
Since a wave of anthrax attacks in 2001, such letter hoaxes have become more prevalent and more-time consuming for agents. Prosecutions in such cases have also increased.
"Unfortunately, these are the types of things that we have to deal with," Siegel said.
Staff writer John Mooney contributed to this report.
analyst charged in anthrax threat against property appraiser
By Buddy Nevins & Akilah
August 2, 2005
Federal agents caught up with a National Institutes of Health analyst Monday and arrested her on a charge of threatening to infect the Broward Property Appraiser's Office with anthrax in revenge for a $2,300 tax increase.
Michelle Ledgister, 43, was arrested Monday in a Rockville, Md., strip mall by FBI agents and charged with spreading false information and making a hoax under the Terrorism Prevention Act, according to an arrest warrant.
She is accused of leaving a threatening message for Lindy Wren, an administrative aide, after Ledgister was told she'd lost her homestead exemption and Save Our Homes tax cap by moving to Maryland.
John Burklow, a National Institutes of Health spokesman, said Ledgister does not have access to anthrax. The strains the institute has do not cause disease, he said.
Ledgister was still an employee after her arrest, Burklow said, but he couldn't say if she faces dismissal or discipline. Although the agency's Web site states she is a public health program analyst with the Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Burklow couldn't explain her job duties.
If convicted, Ledgister could face up to five years in prison under the law passed last year. This is the first time the new law has been used in the Southern District of Florida, said Alicia Valle, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami.
Shortly after her arrest, Ledgister appeared in federal court in Greenbelt, Md. U.S. Magistrate Judge William Connelly ordered her held in federal custody until her detention hearing, scheduled for 2:30 p.m. today, according to federal prosecutors.
Ledgister could not be reached for comment, despite repeated calls made to her cell and business phones before her arrest. She has no previous criminal record in Florida, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
She was notified June 8 that she was losing her homestead exemption on the property on Windsor Drive in Parkland she has owned for 11 years. She made the threatening call to the property appraiser's office last week, the FBI warrant says.
Three messages were left on Wren's answering machine at work, according to the warrant. The first two were innocuous and included the statement she would appeal the revocation of her homestead exemption. In the third call, she acknowledged the office had located her place of employment: "It's Michelle Ledgister. I must commend your skillful sleuths on knowing where the main campus of NIH is located. But what they didn't tell you is that NIH is located where infectious agents are, and you guys now have anthrax spores once again. So, do be careful. Toodles."
Anthrax is a rare, infectious disease largely spread by inhalation. In 2001, five people were killed and 17 others were sickened after being infected with anthrax sent through the mail. The first to die was a photo editor at tabloid publisher American Media Inc.'s Boca Raton headquarters.
After the threatening call last week, the Broward Sheriff's Office's hazardous materials team searched the property appraiser's office in the Broward Government Center in downtown Fort Lauderdale and found no anthrax.
Ledgister's case was part of the crackdown on homestead exemption eligibility launched by Property Appraiser Lori Parrish when she took office in January. Ledgister appeared on the appraiser's radar when the office received a Maryland forwarding address for the Parkland home.
Investigator Cazi Navarro went to the house June 6 and interviewed neighbors, who said the property had been rented. Navarro found mail in the box for a different couple, and later discovered the couple was paying the utility bills.
Two days later, the office sent a letter to Ledgister's Maryland address canceling the homestead exemption.
Under Florida law, property owners who live in their homes are entitled to subtract $25,000 of the value of their property for tax purposes. Anyone who is eligible for homestead exemption automatically receives the benefits of the Save Our Homes law, which caps future value increases for tax purposes at 3 percent annually.
Losing the exemption automatically increases the property value to its current market value. In Ledgister's case, raising the value of her home will raise her property taxes from about $1,900 to $4,200 annually, according to property appraiser office documents.
Jonathan Rockoff of the Baltimore Sun contributed to this report.
Buddy Nevins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-356-4571.
in anthrax threat free on bail while awaiting Aug. 24 hearing
By Buddy Nevins
August 5, 2005
An employee of the National Institutes of Health charged with threatening to put anthrax in the Broward County Property Appraiser's Office was ordered Thursday to appear in court Aug. 24 with a lawyer so that she can plead guilty or not guilty to the charges.
The arraignment for Michelle Ledgister, 43, was set in 20 days to give the Bethesda, Md., woman a chance to hire an attorney. Ledgister, making her first appearance in a Fort Lauderdale courtroom since her arrest in a Maryland strip mall Monday, told Federal Magistrate Lurana Snow that she could afford her own lawyer.
Snow restricted Ledgister's travel to Maryland and South Florida. She allowed her to continue to be free on the $10,000 bond against her Parkland home that she posted in a Maryland court shortly after her arrest.
She faces up to five years in prison and a fine up to $250,000 if convicted under the year-old terrorism law.
The FBI charged that Ledgister, angry that an investigator found she was no longer eligible for a homestead exemption on the Parkland home, called the property appraiser's office last week and left a message on their answering machine: "It's Michelle Ledgister ... NIH is located where infectious agents are, and you guys now have anthrax spores. Toodles."
Removal of the exemption, which includes the Save Our Homes cap on property tax assessments, raised her taxes about $2,300 annually, from about $1,900 to $4,200, according to the property appraiser's records.
Prisoner Gets Life in Anthrax Threat
The Associated Press
PANAMA CITY, Fla. -- A state prison inmate has received a federal life sentence for threatening President Bush, his brother Gov. Jeb Bush, and government employees with anthrax in a letter mailed to a courthouse. The letter contained body powder.
Roger V. Evans, 51, also was ordered Wednesday to undergo mental evaluation and treatment.
Employees at the federal courthouse in Pensacola were held in isolation for about 10 hours after Evans' letter arrived at the clerk's office in April 2004. Initial testing erroneously indicated the substance may have been ricin, a poison even more deadly than anthrax.
Evans pleaded guilty in December to charges of mailing threatening communications, assaulting, resisting or impeding federal officers, and threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction against federal property.
He is only the second person charged with the latter crime, officials said.
The first was Timothy McVeigh, who in 1995 blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people. McVeigh was executed in 2001.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Swaim told the judge that Evans compounded his crime last week by sending the prosecutor a letter threatening him with botulism.
Evans' lawyer removed himself from the case before the sentencing because he, too, had received a letter from his client threatening him and his family.
Evans already was serving a 50-year state sentence for robbery, armed robbery and escape.
N.Y. Times Receives Suspicious Mail
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New York Times said Friday it was investigating an envelope received at the paper containing white powder, raising fears of a possible recurrence of anthrax-tainted letters sent to newsrooms and other offices in late 2001.
"At about 12:30 p.m. this afternoon ... an employee opened an envelope that contained a white powdery substance. The envelope was handwritten and addressed to the New York Times, not to any individual. The postmark was from Philadelphia with no return address," said Times spokeswoman Catherine Mathis.
Emergency vehicles and an ambulance were parked outside the newspaper's offices on 43rd Street to investigate the incident. The New York Police Department declined immediate comment.
The Times has been criticized in recent weeks for writing about the Bush administration's covert efforts to stamp out terrorism financing.
This week protesters rallied outside the newspaper to object to the paper's decision to publish details about terrorism financing and other stories about secret government programs to monitor phone conversations of U.S. citizens.
Powder Sent to The Times Not Anthrax
By AL BAKER
Published: July 14, 2006
Police and environmental workers responded to The New York Times offices today after an employee in the postal services department opened a letter addressed to the newspaper and saw a powdery substance he believed to be suspicious, the police said.
The incident unfolded at about 12:35 p.m. on the eighth floor of the newspaper’s West 43rd Street offices as the mailroom worker opened the white, business-sized envelope with no return address and saw what he later described as a white powder, the police said.
The letter had a postmark from Philadelphia, the police said, and contained an editorial published by The New York Times on June 28 titled “Patriotism and the Press,” with a red “X” written across it, said Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman. Mr. Browne said the substance had yet to be identified but that it was later deemed to be beige in color, not white.
Shortly before 5 p.m. an announcement was made over the Times public address system saying that the powder had been found to be “nonthreatening and nonhazardous.” According to field tests conducted by the Department of Environmental Protection, the substance was preliminarily identified as corn starch, though further analysis will be done at the city Health Department’s laboratory, as the protocol requires.
The employee, a 54-year-old man from Brooklyn, followed procedures established by the newspaper after opening the envelope. He. immediately placed the letter in a plastic bag and alerted his supervisor, who dialed 911, the police said.
“He followed exactly the procedure we had established after the anthrax hoaxes that came about in the wake of 9/11,” said Catherine J. Mathis, a spokeswoman for the newspaper.
Officers from the Police Department’s midtown north precinct arrived on the scene and immediately sealed off the eighth floor and called in officers from the Emergency Service Unit. Those elite officers, donned biohazard suits, quarantined the employee essentially by having him wait in a bathroom as they turned off the air conditioning system to avoid re-circulating air in the event some kind of dangerous substance had been unleashed. The officers wanted to separate the employee in the bathroom to await decontamination.
Ms. Mathis said the floor was evacuated but she could not say how many people had left the area.
In the first hours after the envelope was opened, Ms. Mathis said no one from the newspaper had been taken to the hospital. She said the mood at the newspaper was calm. Later, the police said that the man who opened the envelope was taken to Bellevue Hospital Center for precautionary reasons but that there was no indication he had been exposed to a harmful substance.
Mr. Browne and Ms. Mathis said the employee had opened the letter because it was not addressed to any person at the paper individually. Mr. Browne said the employee was the only person in the mailroom when he opened the letter, “so there was no other individual who came in contact with this correspondence.” He also did not come into physical contact with anyone when he told them what had happened, Mr. Browne said.
“He shows no symptoms and he shows no signs of being injured in any way, but as a precaution, he is being quarantined and there will be some kind of decontamination process,” said Mr. Browne, who added that officials do not believe any of the substance came into physical contact with the employee.
Police officials notified the Department of Environmental Protection and workers from that agency had arrived at the newspaper’s offices to conduct the field testing.
Mr. Browne initially said the situation was being treated as a threat because of the way the letter arrived and the contents of the letter, meaning the defaced editorial, about the media’s role in reporting on government operations. “It was deemed by the responding patrol as a suspicious substance because of those circumstances,” Mr. Browne said.
Once the substance was deemed nonthreatening, Mr. Browne said the entire episode appeared to be a hoax, noting the juxtaposition of a defaced editorial in an envelope with corn starch.
Separately, someone had called the police earlier in the day to report concerns about a white substance found in a letter delivered to an address in the midtown Manhattan area, Mr. Browne said. But that substance turned out to be cocaine, he said.
Wed Aug 2, 2006 1:24pm ET
NY Times receives second white powder envelope
By Torrye Jones
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New York Times said on Wednesday it had received a second envelope with a suspicious white powder and a stamp with a September 11 image, just weeks after a similar incident raised fears of an anthrax attack.
The substance was discovered by a mail room worker on Monday and city authorities have determined that it was "nonhazardous," said Times spokeswoman Abbe Ruttenberg Serphos.
The handwritten envelope was addressed to the newspaper, not an individual, had a postmark from St. Louis and no return address, Serphos said. It contained a blank piece of paper.
On the back of the envelope was a stamp with an image of three city firefighters on September 11 raising a U.S. flag that read on the bottom, "Freedom is not Free," a Times security official said.
Serphos said the mail room worker who opened the envelope was taken to the hospital and was released after precautionary tests and treatment.
In recent weeks, conservatives have criticized the Times for writing about the Bush administration's covert anti-terrorism programs.
On July 14, the Times received a letter containing a suspicious white powder and a copy of a June 28 editorial entitled "Patriotism and the Press" with an "X" marked through it. Field tests revealed that the powder was harmless, probably corn starch, according to a police statement.
Last month's powder incident raised fears of a repeat of a series of anthrax attacks in the United States, which started one week after the September 11 attacks in 2001.
Letters with a Trenton, New Jersey, postmark and containing anthrax bacteria were mailed to several media offices and two U.S. senators, killing five people and sickening 17 others.
scare briefly closes ABC News office
By Paul J. Gough
NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - A portion of a sixth-floor ABC News office housing "Good Morning America" was closed down for five hours Friday afternoon after an employee found a letter containing an unidentified white powder.
A portion of a floor in the building at 147 Columbus Ave. was shut down after 1 p.m. when the unnamed employee found the letter. Addressed to "Good Morning America" weatherman Sam Champion, the letter mentioned anthrax.
The area was sealed off, with employees still there, as police and hazardous-material specialists scoured the area and worked to identify the suspicious substance that had been sent with the letter. Initial tests on the substance were negative for anthrax, and the all-clear was given to return around 6 p.m.
ABC News said police were questioning a "person of interest" in connection with the case. The news organization said that "Good Morning America" operations would resume Friday and continue throughout the weekend. Even though tests for anthrax came back negative, the area would be thoroughly cleaned.
It was an uncomfortable reminder of the spate of anthrax attacks that hit network newsrooms and congressional offices in the weeks after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Anthrax attacks killed five of the 22 people who were affected.
The 7-month-old baby of an ABC News producer developed cutaneous anthrax a day his mother brought him to a party at the West 66th Street offices of ABC News. Letters with anthrax also were sent to two network anchors at the time: Dan Rather at "CBS Evening News" and Tom Brokaw at "NBC Nightly News." Neither anchor was injured, but Brokaw's assistant and another employee were affected by the anthrax.
"NBC Nightly News" offices were evacuated and sealed off for a monthslong cleaning. No arrest has been made in the attacks.
June 16, 2007 -- THE forecast was scary yesterday for Sam Champion, when a "rambling" letter arrived for the "Good Morning America" weatherman along with a mysterious white powder, police said. Parts of the ABC News offices on the Upper West Side were closed before law enforcement concluded it wasn't anthrax. But detectives checked out the return address on the envelope. They found A.J. Dunleavy, rumored to be a former studio temp, at the Greenpoint Motel in Brooklyn. He admitted to sending the letter, a police source said. Cops were questioning Dunleavy last night.
ANTHRAX WEATHER WACKO
By LAURA ITALIANO
July 27, 2007 -- A Brooklyn man who admittedly sent an anthrax-scare letter to Sam Champion last month was trying to persuade the ABC weatherman to "test" the enclosed so-called sample, according to a police confession released yesterday.
"Please have this tested," kooky fan Andrew Dunleavy, 46, of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, said he wrote the forecaster when grilled last month about his scary mailing - which contained nothing more than handwritten hysteria. "For the past few years I have been living in mortal fear of terrorism," he admitted to prosecutors.
There was nothing hazardous in the letter.
Even so, he learned yesterday he has been indicted on charges of placing a false hazardous substance, punishable by up to four years in prison.
Anthrax hoaxes pile up, as does their cost
By Bob Drogin
Reporting from Boston -- A security camera recorded the man wearing dark sunglasses and a hooded sweat shirt as he walked by Boston's Symphony Hall on Feb. 9 and dropped a cardboard tube marked "Anthrax Beware" at the door.
Emergency medical crews raced to the site, firefighters cordoned off the area, police halted traffic, and life came to an anxious halt until a hazmat team signaled the all-clear: The tube was empty.
In the 7 1/2 years since America's worst bioterrorist attack -- when letters laced with anthrax spores killed five people, closed Congress and the Supreme Court, and crippled mail service for months -- U.S. agencies have spent more than $50 billion to beef up biological defenses.
No other anthrax attacks have occurred.
But a flood of anthrax hoaxes and false alarms have raised the cost considerably through lost work, emergency evacuations, decontamination efforts, first-responders' time and the emotional distress of the victims.
That, experts say, is often the hoaxer's goal.
"It's easy, it's cheap, and very few perpetrators get caught," said Leonard Cole, a political scientist at Rutgers University in Newark, N.J., who studies bioterrorism. "People do it for a sense of power."
Among the recent targets: nearly all 50 governors' offices; about 100 U.S. embassies abroad; 52 banks; 36 news organizations; ticket booths at Disneyland; Mormon temples in Salt Lake City and Los Angeles; town halls in Batavia, Ohio, and Ellenville, N.Y.; a funeral home and day-care center in Ocala, Fla.; a sheriff's office in Eagle, Colo.; and homes in Ely River, N.M.
The FBI has investigated about 1,000 such "white powder events" as possible terrorist threats since the start of 2007, spokesman Richard Kolko said. The bureau responds if a letter contains a written threat or is mailed to a federal official.
"Some of these knuckleheads think because they're not sending a dangerous substance, it's not a crime," Kolko said. "But it is a crime. We don't treat a hoax as a joke."
In one recent case, emergency crews cleared and sealed a Department of Homeland Security office in Washington after a senior official, who had received a package at home containing white powder and a dead fish, brought it to work for inspection.
The contents proved harmless, and the official, who collects intelligence on weapons of mass destruction, remains a department employee, a spokeswoman said.
Other cases, however, are more worrisome.
The FBI is trying to figure out who mailed about 150 letters late last year that contained powder and threatening notes. The envelopes were sent from the Dallas area to U.S. embassies in various countries and to most U.S. governors.
"It's possible that the final two or three letters went to governors who are no longer in office," said Mark White, an FBI spokesman in Dallas. "They may still trickle in."
One letter, for example, was addressed to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who left office two years ago. When it arrived in Boston, someone marked "return to sender" on the envelope and popped it back in the mail. The return address was the FBI office in El Paso.
White powder spilled out when an FBI clerk there opened it Feb. 12. Anxious officials emptied the Federal Justice Center, sending more than 300 FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency and other law enforcement personnel home. The powder proved to be baking soda, White said.
The Justice Department was able to bring criminal charges in two other high-profile cases.
Richard L. Goyette, 47, pleaded not guilty Thursday in Amarillo, Texas, to charges of mailing 65 threatening letters to banks and other financial institutions in October. The envelopes contained white powder and a warning that the recipient would die within 10 days.
According to prosecutors, Goyette was distraught after losing $63,525 when federal regulators seized Washington Mutual Bank and placed it in receivership. The FBI said it traced him through angry e-mails that he sent to the banks.
If convicted, Goyette would face a maximum five-year prison term on each charge, although sentencing guidelines would lower the total.
The powder was identified as calcium carbonate, which is used in antacids and blackboard chalk.
In the second case, a federal grand jury in Sacramento indicted Marc M. Keyser, 66, in November for allegedly mailing hoax letters; 120 of them went to newspapers, a member of Congress, a McDonald's, a Starbucks and other targets.
Each contained a CD labeled "Anthrax Shock and Awe Terror," and a packet of granular material bearing a biohazard symbol and the words "Anthrax Sample," the FBI said. The substance was harmless.
Keyser's home address was on several mailings. After his arrest, prosecutors told a judge that Keyser had hoped the publicity would raise concern about anthrax and draw attention to his blog and novel. He has pleaded not guilty.
Cases that result in charges are the exception, however.
In the last two fiscal years, records show, U.S. postal inspectors responded to more than 5,800 reports of letters and packages containing suspicious substances. Only a few dozen cases have resulted in arrests.
"We try to use common sense," said Peter Rendina, spokesman for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. "We know there are cases where Grandma is sending her favorite muffin recipe and doesn't mean to be a threat."
Scientists disagree over whether the nation is more vulnerable to an anthrax attack today than it was in 2001. (The FBI blames that attack on Bruce E. Ivins, an anthrax researcher at a federal biodefense facility who committed suicide in July.)
The U.S. Postal Service in 2003 installed devices to check for airborne pathogens or poisons at the nation's 271 mail processing and distribution centers. They have yet to detect a threat, Rendina said.
But the boom in biodefense spending carries a danger. Some experts fear that a tenfold increase in laboratories authorized to work with dangerous bioagents increases the risk of leaks. More than 7,200 scientists now are approved to work with anthrax, far more than in the past, creating security risks.
"I think all our screaming about bioterrorism has been counterproductive," said Milton Leitenberg, a University of Maryland scholar who has written extensively about biological weapons. "It's a hard balance to strike."
Boston police felt the same way after the incident at Symphony Hall last month.
An address label on the DHL tube led detectives to a local man, who said he had tossed it in a Dumpster. Police never figured out who picked it up and wrote "Anthrax Beware" on it, or why.
"Happily, there was nothing to it," said Jill McLaughlin, a police spokeswoman. "We've got enough problems without an anthrax scare."