- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 22, 2001

Federal authorities have charged nearly 40 persons over the past three months with anthrax hoaxes and threats. They could face penalties of up to five years in prison or fines to a maximum of $250,000.
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III yesterday warned that the bureau "has and will continue to vigorously investigate and arrest" those individuals who seek to commit anthrax hoaxes.
"We will not tolerate these serious violations of federal law. These investigations place a severe strain on law enforcement and public-health resources and violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," he said.
Since the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that killed more than 3,000 people, the FBI and other federal agencies have investigated and charged individuals throughout the nation on several anthrax hoax and threat violations including using the mail to send threatening communications, obstructing the mail and making a threat to use a weapon of mass destruction.
The cases have included:
Frederick J. Champion, 30, accused of mailing a letter to the El Dorado, Ark., home of Sen. Tim Hutchinson, Arkansas Republican. Several law enforcement authorities responded and the senator's office was temporarily closed. Champion is an inmate at the Union County Jail in El Dorado and, authorities said, he listed the jail as the return address on the envelope.
Christopher Cooper, 43, a Los Angeles City fire captain who counseled rescue workers at the World Trade Center. He was charged with mailing threatening communication to his ex-wife's attorney. A criminal complaint said he sent the letter to a law firm that had represented his former wife.
Michael Murphy, 19, accused of writing anthrax on an envelope that contained white granular substance and a birthday card for his mother in Reedley, Calif. The envelope sent a scare through Reedley as authorities temporarily shut down the post office and the Student Services Building at Reedley College. Dozens of people were quarantined while the FBI took control of the envelope.
Joseph Faryniarz of Bridgeport, Conn., who was charged with intentionally making false statements to the FBI concerning an anthrax threat. He knew a report of an anthrax contamination at the state Department of Environmental Protection where he worked was false, but did not tell FBI investigators, according to an FBI affidavit.
Frederick Forcellina of Bridgeport, Conn., who was charged with threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction against federal courts in Stamford, Bridgeport and Norwalk. He was quoted in an FBI affidavit as calling 911, making the threats and saying the buildings had been "dusted."
Jacob De La Fuente, 37, of Monterey Park, Calif., who was charged with trying to send his ex-girlfriend an envelope that contained a white powder and a note that stated "Anthrax, Die." The envelope was discovered Oct. 17 at a U.S. Postal Service center in the City of Industry, a suburb of Los Angeles. The center was forced to evacuate and lost an estimated $36,550 in revenue.
Attorney General John Ashcroft and Mr. Mueller announced in October that the FBI would crack down on those involved in anthrax hoaxes.
"It should be painfully obvious to every American today that the threat of bioterrorism is no joking matter. These acts are serious violations of the law and grotesque transgressions of the public trust," Mr. Ashcroft said. "Terrorism hoaxes are not victimless crimes, but are the destructive acts of cowards."

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