aurora man indicted for sending three threatening letters containing white powder
DENVER –Tim Schwartz, of Aurora, Colorado, appeared before a U.S. Magistrate Judge this afternoon and was advised that on March 11, 2014, a federal grand jury in Denver, returned a one count indictment, charging him with mailing threatening communications, the United States Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Postal Inspector’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Aurora Police Department and the Denver Police Department announced. Schwartz was originally charged by Criminal Complaint on March 5, 2014 with sending threatening letters containing white powder to three separate addresses using the U.S. Mails. Schwartz will next appear in court on March 26th for arraignment.
According to court documents, including the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, and the indictment, Schwartz was in a romantic relationship with an Aurora woman that ended disagreeably. He had recently spent 60 days in the Adams County Jail for domestic violence related charges involving the Aurora woman. The woman was living with her children in Schwartz’s home. When he got out of jail he learned that she had sold a fair number of his tools, which allegedly angered him.
On March 2, 2014, Schwartz brought an unopened letter into the lobby of the Denver Police Department’s headquarters building. He told the officer he was fearful of what might be in the envelope, and asked the officer to open it. The officer refused, so Schwartz opened it in the officer’s presence. Inside the envelope was a threatening letter and a light powder substance. The Denver Police Department immediately called a Hazardous Materials Unit to handle the letter and powder, which was ultimately collected, bagged and held. The letter was address to Schwartz, and had a return address of the ex-girlfriend.
On March 3, 2014, authorities learned that a second envelope containing a threatening letter and light colored powder was found at the ex-girlfriend’s address. That letter was addressed to the Adams County Detention Facility, with her return address. Writing on the envelope “return to sender – addressee no longer at this address.” This letter had similar characteristics to the letter opened at the Denver Police Department. Aurora Fire Department’s Hazardous Materials Unit and the FBI responded, screened and secured the envelope and its contents.
On March 4, 2014, a third letter was discovered at the Aurora Police Department. The third letter had similar characteristics to the other two. This letter was addressed to the Aurora Police Department with the ex-girlfriend’s return address. A hazardous materials unit responded to handle the letter and powder. All three letters had been sent via U.S. Mail.
The night of March 3, 2014, agents and officers talked with Schwartz at the Denver Police Department. During the course of the investigation, and as confirmed during the conversation, it was determined that Schwartz assembled the letters in an attempt to get back at his ex-girlfriend. Also, his handwriting matched the three letters. Schwartz was ultimately arrested by the Aurora Police Department on a violation of an order of protection.
“When someone threatens others using white powder in mailed envelopes, they will be prosecuted, as law enforcement and public safety officials have to respond as if the contents are harmful,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. “In this case, the defendant was trying to use threatening letters to get his ex-girlfriend in trouble. Clearly that tactic has backfired.”
“Securing the nation’s mail system and ensuring public trust in the mail is a priority for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service,” said Adam P. Behnen, Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Denver Division. “We take threats and hoaxes via the U.S. Mail seriously and will continue to work diligently to hold those responsible accountable for their actions.”
“The FBI and our law enforcement partners treat all threats seriously, even false threats, because they terrorize the victims and divert first responder resources from other public safety needs,” said FBI Denver Division Special Agent in Charge Thomas P. Ravenelle. “The FBI's determination to pursue justice and our dedication to work in full cooperation with local, state, and federal partners are reflected in this investigation.”
If convicted, the defendant faces not more than 10 years in federal prison, and a fine of up to $250,000.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the FBI, the Aurora Police Department and the Denver Police Department. Hazardous Material Units from the Aurora and Denver Fire Departments assisted authorities as well.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Holloway.
The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.