News and Press Releases

Marshall County Woman Charged with Mailing Hoax Anthrax Letters

February 10, 2011

BIRMINGHAM – A federal indictment charging an Albertville woman with mailing two hoax anthrax letters to the Social Security Administration office in Albertville in 2009 was unsealed Tuesday following her arrest, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and Frank Dyer, postal inspector/domicile coordinator, U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

A federal grand jury, on Feb. 2, indicted MICHELLE HOLLADAY RYDER, 43, on two counts of mailing a letter containing a powdery substance and a note to someone at the Albertville Social Security office. At the time the letters were mailed, Ryder worked at the Albertville office. Tests of the substance found in both letters were negative for the presence of Anthrax or other biological hazards.

“Mailing threatening letters is a crime with serious consequences,” Vance said. “Anyone mailing a letter containing white powder in order to scare or threaten someone else should know that crime will be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted.”

The maximum sentence for each count of sending hoax anthrax letters is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General and the Department of Homeland Security Federal Protective Service jointly investigated the case, which is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael W. Whisonant.

Members of the public are reminded that the indictment contains only charges. A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.




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