Navy veteran charged with sending toxic letters to Pentagon, White House

Navy veteran charged with sending toxic letters to Pentagon, White House
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A former Navy sailor accused of sending toxin-filled letters to the Pentagon and White House was indicted on seven counts Thursday by a federal grand jury in Salt Lake City.

William Clyde Allen III, 39, was charged with one count of knowingly threatening to use a biological agent as a weapon, one count of mailing a threat against the president, and five counts of mailing threatening communications to an officer or an employee of the United States, the Justice Department said.

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Allen mailed letters filled with the castor beans — used to make the toxin ricin — to Defense Secretary James Mattis, Chief of Naval Operations John Richardson, FBI Director Christopher Wray, CIA Director Gina Haspel and Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, according to the Justice Department.

He's also accused of mailing President Trump a letter filled with “castor bean material” and containing the words “Jack and the Missile Bean Stock Powder.”

Allen was arrested Oct. 3 and will remain in jail until the Dec. 26 trial. He pleaded not guilty to all charges Thursday.

The maximum penalty for threatening to use a biological toxin as a weapon is life in prison, while mailing a threat against the president carries a five-year maximum penalty. Sending threatening communications to an officer or an employee of the United States via mail has a potential 10-year sentence.

The Justice Department said Allen bought 380 castor beans in December 2017 through eight separate purchases.

Ricin, an easy-to-produce powder that has been used in terror plots, is potentially deadly if made into a pure powder form that can be inhaled or injected.

The Pentagon Force Protection Agency detected the substance in letters during mail screenings at a remote facility. Suspicious envelopes addressed to Trump were intercepted by the U.S. Secret Service.