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Press Release

Fruitland Park Man Arrested For Mailing Anthrax Hoax Letter

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

Ocala, Florida – United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announces the arrest and charging by a criminal complaint of Jerry Nelson Stinchcomb (50, Fruitland Park) with sending an anthrax hoax letter to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, and for mailing a threatening communication. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison. Stinchcomb made his initial appearance in federal court today. A detention hearing has been scheduled for June 15, 2018.      

According to the complaint, between December 1, 2017 and May 31, 2018, a series of envelopes containing a white powdery substance and threatening letters were mailed to various entities in Lake, Volusia, Sumter and Orange Counties.  Those mailings caused local HAZMAT teams, the Florida Department of Health, local law enforcement and other agencies to respond. In each case, the correspondence contained black letters that had been generated by a label-maker.  From March through April 2018, employees of the Fruitland Park Post Office intercepted letters with same labeling type.    

Through further investigation, Stinchcomb was eventually identified as the person responsible for mailing an anthrax hoax letter on May, 30, 2018, using a Fruitland Park postal collection box. The letter contained a white powdery substance and a note reading, “anthrax.” The letter was addressed to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and was collected by a letter carrier on May 31, 2018.    

A complaint is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

The case is being investigated by the FBI (Daytona Resident Agency) and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, with assistance from other enforcement agencies. It will be prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dale Campion.

Updated June 12, 2018