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Chicago Man Accused of Mailing Threatening Letters Containing False Information About Bombing Targets Across the U.S.

U.S. Attorney’s Office January 06, 2012
  • Northern District of Illinois (312) 353-5300

CHICAGO—A Chicago man was indicted on federal charges for allegedly mailing threatening letters containing false information about bombing public and private properties around the country, federal law enforcement officials announced today. The defendant, Timothy P. O’Donnell, was charged with nine counts of falsely threatening use of explosives in an indictment returned late yesterday by a federal grand jury.

O’Donnell, 51, of Chicago, never posed any actual danger of carrying through with the alleged threats contained in dozens of identical letters mailed in March 2011, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert D. Grant, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said in announcing the charges.

“While there was never any real danger in Chicago or elsewhere, these charges demonstrate that the FBI and the Chicago Joint Terrorism Task Force will aggressively investigate all threats and there are serious consequences for those who allegedly make false threats,” Mr. Grant said.

O’Donnell will be arraigned on a date yet to be scheduled in U.S. District Court.

The charges stem from an investigation of identically worded letters that were mailed from Chicago to dozens of recipients in approximately 16 states in March 2011. The letters purported to be from “Osama Bin Laden” and, among other things, claimed that “Al-Qaeda” had planted 160 remotely-controlled nuclear bombs throughout the country in schools, churches, hospitals, financial institutions, and government buildings.

Each of the nine counts in the indictment alleges the mailing of a threatening letter between March 18 and 22, 2011, from Chicago to two businesses in Chicago, as well as recipients in Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee.

Each count of the indictment carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. If convicted, the court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Stetler and Nancy DePodesta.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains only allegations and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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