States Attorney's Office District of Connecticut
|September 23, 2010||
CONNECTICUT MAN CHARGED WITH SENDING NUMEROUS ANTHRAX HOAX AND BOMB THREAT LETTERS NATIONWIDE
David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that ROLAND PREJEAN, also known as “Gary Joseph Gravelle,” 43, recently residing in Thomaston and Morris, Connecticut, has been charged by criminal complaint for allegedly sending more than 50 anthrax hoax and bomb threat letters to private individuals, post offices, state and federal buildings, judges, and other state and federal government officials around the country.
“This defendant is alleged to have sent more than 50 letters nationwide, in which he threatened to kill numerous victims, by shooting them, bombing the buildings in which they work or exposing them to a substance that he claimed was, but was not, anthrax,” stated U.S. Attorney Fein. “The letters victimized both private citizens and public servants, and resulted in the evacuation of a post office, a town hall and a public school. Such threats cause significant diversions of law enforcement resources, inflict fear in the victims, and result in substantial disruption of public and government services, and they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
PREJEAN was arrested and remains in custody after he turned himself in to law enforcement authorities in North Dakota on September 7, 2010. He was presented on the District of Connecticut’s charges in federal court in North Dakota yesterday, where he waived certain preliminary hearings and agreed to be transported to Connecticut to face the charges.
According to the allegations set forth in the federal criminal complaint that was unsealed in court yesterday, on or about September 3, 2010, while in Connecticut, PREJEAN began writing a series of threatening letters to numerous recipients including a private individual, a Connecticut probation officer and a Connecticut Superior Court Judge. In the letters, PREJEAN threatened to kill various individuals including a postal carrier from Thomaston, Connecticut; a judge in Salt Lake City, Utah; several individuals from the Connecticut Valley Hospital; a judge in Middletown, Connecticut; and a former roommate. PREJEAN also mailed a threatening letter to the Thomaston, Connecticut Post Office.
The letter addressed to the Thomaston Post Office was received on September 7, 2010. In the letter, it is alleged that PREJEAN threatened to kill a particular postal carrier as well as everyone in the Post Office. In the letter, PREJEAN further claimed that he had planted a hidden bomb in the Thomaston Post Office. The letter resulted in the evacuation of the Thomaston Post Office as well as the Thomaston Town Hall and a Thomaston Public School, which were in the immediate vicinity of the Post Office. Bomb technicians from the Connecticut State Police Emergency Services Unit searched the post office for explosive devices with negative results.
Additional letters dated September 3 were received by victims in Connecticut as well. For example, a letter received by a probation officer in Connecticut threatened to shoot and kill numerous employees at the Connecticut Valley Hospital.
Another letter postmarked September 4, 2010, which was sent to a Connecticut Superior Court Judge in New London, included a substance that was represented to be “Liquid Anthrax.”
According to the allegations set forth in the federal criminal complaint, during a cross-country drive from Connecticut to North Dakota, PREJEAN sent more than 50 such threatening mailings to various recipients nationwide. In some of the letters he placed a white powder that he represented to be anthrax, but which was, in fact, baby or talcum powder. Thirty-four threatening letters and 17 threatening postcards that PREJEAN attempted to mail from North Dakota were intercepted before delivery. Six of the 34 letters contained a powder inside the envelope, while one contained some sort of paste. To date, analysis of the substances contained in the mailings have proved negative for any biological or chemical agents.
PREJEAN is charged in the federal criminal complaint with mailing threatening communications, and with making threats, through the use of the mail, to kill, injure or intimidate any individual, or to damage or destroy any building by means of an explosive. If convicted, he faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years on each individual charge.
U.S. Attorney Fein stressed that a complaint is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
U.S. Attorney Fein commended the substantial efforts and cooperation of the several agencies involved in this investigation including the Federal Bureau of Investigation in New Haven and Bismarck; the United States Postal Inspection Service in Connecticut and North Dakota; the Connecticut State Police Emergency Services Unit and the Thomaston (Conn.) Police Department.
U.S. Attorney Fein also acknowledged the substantial assistance provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of North Dakota and particularly that of Assistant United States Attorney David D. Hagler.
This case is being prosecuted in the District of Connecticut by Assistant United States Attorneys Stephen B. Reynolds and David E. Novick.
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