Former Legislative Clerk Sentenced for White Powder Hoax on Floor of Iowa Legislature
DES MOINES, IA – On September 19, 2016, Michael Dekota McRae, 28, was sentenced by Chief United States District Court Judge John A. Jarvey to eighteen (18) months imprisonment for conveying false information concerning a biological weapon, announced United States Attorney Kevin E. VanderSchel. McRae was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $2,747.50 and a $100.00 special assessment to the Crime Victims’ Fund.
McRae, a former legislative clerk to Iowa State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad, admitted to writing a threatening letter addressed to Representative Abdul-Samad. The letter contained racial slurs and threats to kill both McRae and Representative Abdul-Samad. McRae subsequently inserted the letter, along with a white powdery substance, into an envelope which he placed into a legislative mail receptacle.
On April 3, 2012, McRae opened the threatening letter on the chamber floor during an active session of the Iowa Legislature. When McRae opened the letter the white powder, which McRae included to simulate a biological agent or toxin, was released and came into contact with McRae and Representative Abdul-Samad. McRae admitted to perpetrating the hoax to create fear in others.
When McRae committed the crime, legislation proposing to expand existing Iowa law allowing individuals to defend themselves in their home, business or place of employment, commonly referred to as "stand your ground," was pending before the Iowa Legislature. In the days leading up to the hoax, McRae and others participated in a rally on the steps of the Capitol to protest the proposed legislation, and that rally was mentioned in the threatening letter written by McRae.
This matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Iowa State Patrol, the Des Moines Police Department, Des Moines Fire Department Hazardous Materials Team, and the Iowa National Guard 71st Civil Support Team. The case was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa.