FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2003
TDD (202) 514-1888
CLAYTON LEE WAAGNER FOUND GUILTY OF MAKING ANTHRAX AND DEATH THREATS - FACES MAXIMUM POSSIBLE SENTENCE OF LIFE IMPRISONMENT
Waagner Convicted Regarding Threats To Employees Of Reproductive
Clinics In Eastern District Of Pennsylvania And Elsewhere
PHILADELPHIA - Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division R. Alexander Acosta, U.S. Attorney Patrick L. Meehan and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent-in-Charge Jeffrey A. Lampinski today announced a guilty verdict in a criminal civil rights case.
A federal jury found Clayton Lee Waagner guilty of making threats to employees of reproductive clinics after a two-week trial. Waagner was convicted of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, of interstate transmission and mailing of threatening communications, and of threatening the use of a weapon of mass destruction. He faces a maximum possible sentence of life imprisonment.
"While many people of goodwill have deeply held views about abortion, the Justice Department will prosecute those who cross the line from honestly held beliefs to violent and unlawful actions," said Assistant Attorney General Acosta. "We are pleased that the jury agreed that the defendant's actions here crossed far past that line."
In June 2001, Waagner posted a message on the “The Army of God” website stating that he was going to escalate the war on abortionists. In this letter, Waagner stated that "I am going to kill as many of them as I can.” Waagner proceeded to make numerous death threats to individuals who worked for women’s reproductive health care clinics.
Furthermore, Waagner sent hundreds of letters to reproductive health care clinics throughout the eastern portion of the United States. The phrase, “TIME SENSITIVE SECURITY INFORMATION, OPEN IMMEDIATELY” was typewritten on the outside of many of the envelopes. The letters contained an unidentified powder which was purported to be anthrax. Waagner mailed these threatening letters on the heels of letters sent to Florida, Washington, D.C. and New Jersey that actually contained anthrax spores and caused the illness and death of several innocent people. While Waagner targeted abortion clinics, he also mistakenly sent these "anthrax letters" to several pro-life organizations.
“His threats to kill and injure were chilling, specific, and public,” said Meehan. “He promised to deliver anthrax and other bio-weapons through the mail. Our prosecution of this case clearly demonstrates that we take such threats seriously and those who make them will be held accountable.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as state and local law enforcement agencies, investigated this matter. Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Barrett and Sheila Berman, trial attorney from the Criminal Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, jointly prosecuted the case.