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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, January 6, 2020

Manhattan Man Arrested For Mailing Hoax Anthrax Threat

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and Phillip R. Bartlett, Inspector-in-Charge of the New York Office of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (“USPIS”), announced today the arrest of AMEEN KESHAVJEE for allegedly mailing a white powdery substance, along with a note indicating the substance was anthrax, to an employee at a Manhattan bar.  KESHAVJEE is charged in a criminal Complaint, unsealed today, with one count of mailing a threatening communication and one count of conveying an anthrax hoax threat.  KESHAVJEE was presented today in Manhattan federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Debra Freeman.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “Today’s arrest makes clear that we will not tolerate anthrax threats.  Thanks to the work of the FBI and the United States Postal Inspection Service, the defendant will have to answer for his alleged threatening actions.”

FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “Even though there was no actual anthrax in the note allegedly mailed by Keshavjee, that doesn’t minimize the consequences of the crime.  Hoax threats not only intimidate the victims they are intended for, they require extensive law enforcement resources that could be better used elsewhere.  For anyone out there who might be contemplating a hoax of this nature, just remember Keshavjee now faces up to 10 years in prison for his alleged actions.”   

USPIS Inspector-in-Charge Phillip R. Bartlett said:  “As alleged, Mr. Keshavjee used scare tactics to show his displeasure with employees at the bar.  Postal Inspectors remind the public that sending threats through the U.S. mail is illegal.  These types of cases are aggressively investigated by Postal Inspectors and those allegedly involved will be arrested and brought to justice for their crimes.”

According to the allegations in the Complaint unsealed in Manhattan federal court:[1]

KESHAVJEE was a patron at a bar in the East Village neighborhood in Manhattan, and sent a series of communications via e-mail to an employee at the bar (“Employee-1”).  In approximately February 2019, Employee-1 told KESHAVJEE that if KESHAVJEE continued sending him messages, he would no longer be welcome at the bar.  KESHAVJEE stopped coming to the bar, but began sending threatening e-mails in which KESHAVJEE, among other things, indicated that he hoped for Employee-1’s death.

On December 9, 2019, KESHAVJEE mailed an envelope to Employee-1 at the bar.  The envelope included a white powdery substance and a note indicating that the substance was anthrax.  Upon opening the envelope, Empoyee-1 called 911.  Law enforcement responded to the scene, secured the area, and seized the materials mailed by KESHAVJEE.  The City of New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Public Health Laboratory later concluded that the materials did not contain anthrax.

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KESHAVJEE is charged with one count of mailing a threatening communication and one count of conveying an anthrax hoax threat, each of which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Berman praised the outstanding work of the FBI, the USPIS, and the FBI’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, which consists principally of agents from the FBI and detectives from the New York City Police Department.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit.  Assistant United States Attorney Sam Adelsberg is in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint and the description of the Complaint set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Topic(s): 
Counterterrorism
Contact: 
Jim Margolin, Nicholas Biase (212) 637-2600
Press Release Number: 
20-003
Updated January 6, 2020