Man in prison for anthrax hoax letters sends more from behind bars
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A 49-year-old Alabama man serving time for sending anthrax hoax letters has been convicted of sending similar letters from a federal prison in Louisiana.
The conviction for sending four envelopes of white powder from the prison in Oakdale to the U.S. Senate in 2016 could add up to 20 years to Clifton Lamar Dodd’s prison time.
He received a total of 15 years and 6 months in two earlier cases. Some of the letters mailed in 2010 and 2011 also were sent from behind bars.
Dodd was trying to make trouble for other Oakdale inmates by sending the letters in 2016, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Louisiana’s western district.
A federal jury in Lafayette convicted Dodd on Thursday on four counts of mailing hoax letters in which talcum powder simulated “a biological agent and toxin.” The indictment did not specify the toxin in question, but court papers from the two earlier cases said the mailed powders could be mistaken for anthrax.
The most recent indictment said Dodd sent each letter to a different U.S. Senate post box identified only by number. Each return address named a different inmate, the news release said.
The Capitol Police Hazardous Response Unit found that the white powder “was merely talcum powder,” according to the news release. It said each also held a note in capital letters saying “MY BOSS MADE ME DO THIS,” with an inmate’s name on the back
Agents interviewed those inmates “and learned that Dodd had sent one of the inmates threatening notes and bragged about getting the inmate removed from the prison yard,” the statement said. It said the FBI crime lab found Dodd’s fingerprint on one envelope.
He could get up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count. Sentencing is scheduled Oct. 28.
Some of the letters sent in 2011 to public figures, lawyers and another jail inmate were mailed while Dodd, of Lincoln, was in jail after his arrest in the first case, Al.com reported in 2013.
And some of those sent in 2010 originated in the Talladega County Jail, according to the federal complaint in that case.
Dodd pleaded guilty in 2011 to one count of conspiracy and 23 of mailing letters in 2010 containing a white powder that could have been mistaken for anthrax.
A federal complaint filed in 2010 said the first letters found that year were “leaking a significant amount of unknown powder.” It smelled like sweet soap and turned out to include a variety of powders, according to the complaint.
The return address for both appeared to be the jail in Talladega County, Alabama, it said.
Dodd was sentenced to four years and three months on each of the 24 charges, to be served simultaneously.
In 2013, he was convicted on charges of mailing a hoax letter and death threats in 2011.
Hoaxes involving white powder have been common since days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when anthrax spores were sent in anonymous letters to media companies and congressional offices. The anthrax killed five people and infected 17 others.
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