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Press Release

Sacramento Man Indicted for Mailing Threatening Communications, Hoax Letters Containing White Powder, and Aggravated Identity Theft

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a seven-count indictment today against Darnell Ray Owens, 32, of Sacramento, charging him with mailing threatening communications, hoaxes involving biological weapons, and aggravated identity theft, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.

According to court documents, Owens allegedly sent threatening letters via U.S. mail to individuals and organizations, using the return addresses of people he knew. Two letters contained white powder.

According to the indictment, on July 10, 2018, Owens mailed a letter to the pastor of a church in Dallas, Texas, which said in part, “I will assassinate your pastor in the name of Allah, I will burn down Christian churches … This is a threat.”

According to the indictment, on October 20, 2018, Owens sent a letter to Sacramento television station Fox 40 KTXL with threats to kill four employees. The letter stated in part, “Allah has commanded me to burn down the news station with fire and murder anyone who comes out with a gun … This is a threat and a promise.”

According to the indictment, On March 14, 2019, Owens mailed a letter to an elected official in Sacramento. It stated, “I knew you was going to not charge those corrupt racist cops. You have failed this city and the people. So I am making a threat on your life, I will assassinate you with a bullet to your head, you will not survive I will watch your body shake as the life in you leaves.”

In addition, the indictment charges Owens with sending two letters containing white powder under circumstances where the recipient may have reasonably believed that the letters contained a biological agent or toxin for use as a weapon. The letter to the church in Texas contained white powder and the other letter containing white powder was sent to the Sacramento County Department of Revenue Recovery. Owens allegedly sent the hoax letters using the identities of other persons, an action which would constitute aggravated identity theft.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the City of Sacramento Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Shea J. Kenny is prosecuting the case.

Owens is in custody after being arrested in Tulsa, Oklahoma on March 22, 2019. He is awaiting transfer to the Eastern District of California.

If convicted, Owens faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison for each of the threat and hoax counts, and a mandatory statutory penalty of two years in prison for each aggravated identity theft count, and a $250,000 fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updated March 28, 2019

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