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Feds: Man sent more than 50 anthrax hoax, bomb threat letters

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Letter recipients included post office, judge and probation officer
  • Some letters contained a substance represented as anthrax
  • Roland Prejean being returned to Connecticut after arrest in North Dakota

(CNN) -- A Connecticut man is charged with sending more than 50 anthrax hoax and bomb threat letters to recipients including government officials and buildings, federal authorities said.

A complaint charging Roland Prejean, 43, of Thomaston and Morris, Connecticut, was unsealed Wednesday, the Department of Justice said in a statement. Prejean has been in custody since he surrendered to authorities in North Dakota on September 7. He appeared Wednesday in federal court in North Dakota, where he agreed to be returned to Connecticut.

"This defendant is alleged to have sent more than 50 letters nationwide, in which he threatened to kill numerous victims, by shooting them, bombing the buildings in which they work or exposing them to a substance that he claimed was, but was not, anthrax," David Fein, U.S. attorney for the District of Connecticut, said in the statement.

The letters resulted in the evacuation of a post office, a town hall and a public school, Fein said.

Prejean, 43, is charged with mailing threatening communications and with making threats through the mail to kill, injure or intimidate a person, or to damage or destroy any building by means of an explosive, authorities said. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison on each charge.

According to the complaint, cited in the statement, Prejean began writing the letters on or about September 3. Recipients included a private individual, a Connecticut probation officer and a Connecticut Superior Court judge, authorities said. In the letters, Prejean allegedly threatened to kill people including a postal carrier; judges in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Middletown, Connecticut; several people at a Connecticut hospital; and a former roommate, the statement said.

He also mailed a threatening letter to the Thomaston Post Office, the Department of Justice said. In that letter, received September 7, he allegedly threatened to kill a particular postal carrier along with everyone else in the post office. The post office was evacuated, along with the Thomaston Town Hall and a Thomaston school nearby. Bomb technicians searched the post office for explosive devices but found nothing, authorities said.

Others received the letters dated September 3, the statement said. For instance, in a letter to the probation officer, Prejean allegedly threatened to kill numerous employees at the Connecticut Valley Hospital. And a letter postmarked September 4 to a Connecticut Superior Court judge included a substance the letter writer called "liquid anthrax," according to the Justice Department.

The complaint alleges that Prejean mailed the letters while on a cross-country drive from Connecticut to North Dakota, according to the statement.

"In some of the letters, he placed a white powder that he represented to be anthrax, but which was, in fact, baby or talcum powder," the Department of Justice said.

Thirty-four letters and 17 postcards Prejean allegedly attempted to mail from North Dakota were intercepted before delivery, authorities said. Six of the letters contained a powder inside the envelope, and "one contained some sort of paste," the statement said. Testing has so far shown that the substances are not a biological or chemical agent, the Justice Department said.