Thu, Feb 05, 2009 - Page 7 News List

US man arrested in suspicious powder mailings case


A man apparently upset about losing more than US$60,000 in a bank failure has been arrested on charges of mailing threatening letters containing suspicious powder to banks and federal offices, authorities said on Tuesday.

Richard Leon Goyette, 47, was arrested at the Albuquerque, New Mexico, airport on Monday, the US Attorney’s office in Dallas said.

He was charged with a single count of knowingly and intentionally conveying false and misleading information.

“Mr Goyette’s alleged criminal actions caused emergency responders and hazardous response teams immense unnecessary labor and expense ... and caused untold emotional distress to those who received letters,” said James Jacks, acting US attorney for the Northern District of Texas.

Goyette is accused of mailing 65 threatening letters in October to financial institutions and federal regulatory offices in 11 states and Washington.

Sixty-four letters contained an unidentified white powder that proved harmless. Officials said on Tuesday the substance was calcium carbonate, a major component of blackboard chalk.

The 65th letter, sent to the headquarters of banking giant JPMorgan Chase & Co, contained no powder but included a threat of the “McVeighing of your corporate headquarters within six months.” Timothy McVeigh was executed for bombing a federal building and killing 168 people in Oklahoma City in 1995.

The other letters, postmarked Amarillo, included the message “it’s payback time” and promised death within 10 days.

Goyette waived his rights to detention and identification hearings on Tuesday during an initial appearance in Albuquerque and will be returned to Texas to face the charges. He did not have an attorney present at the initial appearance, and attempts to find a telephone number for him were unsuccessful. If convicted, he faces a maximum of five years in prison and a US$250,000 fine.

Goyette was cooperative when arrested Monday at the Albuquerque airport while waiting for a flight to Chicago, airport police chief Marshall Katz said.

Investigators have not disclosed where Goyette lived. He used false addresses when applying for driver’s licenses, post office boxes and bank accounts, a court complaint said.

Goyette also used an alias to get a job at Public Service Company of New Mexico, the state’s largest utility.

A day after the federal Office of Thrift Supervision took over Washington Mutual in September, Goyette sent the agency e-mails saying he lost US$63,525 in stock because of the bank’s failure, officials said.

Three days later, he sent another e-mail to the same agency, this time with his name and post office box in Tijeras, New Mexico, officials said.

“This seizure was the final straw and I will now pursue any path to get the return of my investment. Since legal means are apparently useless, I will have to consider any viable method applicable to rightfully reclaim my stolen funds,” Goyette wrote.

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