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FBI Warns Against Anthrax Hoaxes

Washington, D.C. December 21, 2001
  • FBI National Press Office (202) 324-3691

In recent months, approximately 40 individuals have been charged with anthrax hoaxes and threats with penalties ranging from a maximum of 5 years imprisonment and up to $250,000 fine. FBI Director Robert S. Mueller warned that the FBI has and will continue to vigorously investigate and arrest those individuals who commit these crimes. Mueller said "we will not tolerate these serious violations of federal law. These investigations place a severe strain on law enforcement and public health resources and violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

Since September 11th, the FBI and other federal agencies have investigated and charged individuals throughout the nation on several anthrax hoax and threat violations including but not limited to using the mail to send threatening communications, obstructing the mail, and making a threat to use a weapon of mass destruction. Some of the notable cases include:

  • U.S. v. Frederick Champion - Champion allegedly mailed a letter to a U.S. Senator's home office in El Dorado, Arkansas, temporarily closing the office with several law enforcement authorities responding.
  • U.S. v. Christopher Cooper - Cooper, Los Angeles City fire captain, was charged with allegedly mailing threatening communication to his ex-wife's attorney.
  • U.S. v. Justo Saldana - Saldana allegedly sent a letter filled with baby powder to the City of Long Beach with a note stating it was a joke.
  • U.S. v. Jose Fernandez - Fernandez allegedly mailed an envelope to the Internal Revenue Service in Fresno, California which contained an article about anthrax.
  • U.S. v. Michael Murphy - Murphy allegedly wrote anthrax on an envelope that contained white granular substance and a birthday card for his mother.
  • U.S. v. Faryniarz - Faryniarz allegedly reported to federal authorities that he found a white powdery substance on his desk at Connecticut's Department of Environmental Protection Agency along with a handwritten note when in fact it was a hoax.
  • U.S. v. Fred Forcellina - Forcellina allegedly threatened a "silent war" against the U.S. and three courthouses in southern Connecticut to a 911 dispatcher.
  • U.S. v. Jacob De La Fuente - De La Fuente allegedly sent a threatening letter to his ex-girlfriend which included a white powdery substance causing the Postal Service Industry Processing and Distribution Center to evacuate and accumulate over $36,550 in lost revenue.
  • U.S. v.s Jeremy Theus - Theus was charged with allegedly perpetrating an anthrax hoax by opening a neighbor's mail before it had been received and putting in a harmless white powder.
  • U.S. v. Michael Doherty - Doherty allegedly informed the Rock Island Arsenal Security personnel repeatedly that he had a truck load of anthrax and after being arrested claimed it was a joke.
  • U.S. v. Clarence Lindsey - Lindsey, a former United States Postal Service employee, allegedly deposited a threatening communication in the mail and allegedly wrote "Anthrax Inclosed" (sic) on the outside of the package.
  • U.S. v. David Feddersen - Fedderson allegedly informed a Social Security Administration Office employee that he was going to bring back a bowl of anthrax since he couldn't get a resolution on his disability payments.
  • U.S. v. Alemash T. Alemayehu - Alemayehu allegedly sent an email to an FBI website which collects tips on terrorist activity. The email stated he was producing more anthrax that will kill thousands of people.
  • U.S. v. Robert Gibson - Gibson, a former Home Depot employee, allegedly sent an envelope to the Home Depot in Frazier, PA, containing a white powdery substance and a note " anthrax! anthrax!" The evacuation prompted a full emergency response and over one million dollar loss in revenue.

The public is encouraged to contact their local FBI office if they have any information regarding potential anthrax threats and hoaxes.