- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 5, 2004

Federal authorities yesterday confiscated a suspicious package addressed to Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry from what used to be the Brentwood Postal Facility in Northeast.

A postal inspector said the package contained a granular substance that looked like white powder. The substance was later confirmed to be powdered potatoes, the inspector said.

A postal inspector responded to a call yesterday afternoon about a substance leaking from a package at the V Street post office. Considering it a low-risk substance, the inspector placed the package in a car and transported it to the Curseen-Morris Mail Processing and Distribution Center, formerly known as the Brentwood facility.

D.C. fire and rescue personnel arrived at the center along with FBI and Secret Service agents about 3:15 p.m. The package was taken away in a plastic bag for lab testing.

Postal inspector Molly McMinn said the package contained a return address and officials are trying to contact the sender to verify the package’s contents.

Miss McMinn did not know if any procedures were violated when the inspector transported the package.

Initial reports said that a postal worker found the suspicious letter Wednesday. But because the package was poorly addressed, an employee did not know what to do with it and took it home. The reports said the employee brought the package to the inspector the next day.

“That was inaccurate information,” Miss McMinn said, adding that the report was repeated on the evening news.

The incident came as the District continued to be on high alert after the federal government received intelligence of potential terrorist attacks on financial institutions in the District, New York City and New Jersey.

Brentwood was shut down for 26 months after October 2001 when anthrax-laced letters were processed in the building. Two mail workers died as a result.

No suspects were ever arrested in the case but federal agents investigating the deadly anthrax attacks yesterday searched the homes of the founder of an organization that trains medical professionals to respond to chemical and biological attacks.

More than three dozen agents, some in protective suits, combed through several homes in upstate New York and in New Jersey yesterday.

Authorities provided few details about the investigation, but did say that FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service agents were searching multiple locations in Wellsville and Dover Township, N.J., as part of the anthrax probe.

The searches raised the prospect that authorities might be closer to a break in a case. Five persons were killed and 17 sickened in the anthrax attacks.

Property records list the New York homes as the addresses of Dr. Kenneth Berry, 48, a bioterrorism expert who once advocated the distribution of anthrax vaccine in major cities. It was not immediately known why the agents searched the homes, and attempts to reach Dr. Berry by telephone and e-mail were unsuccessful yesterday.

In New Jersey, agents searched a lagoon-front bungalow and hauled out garbage bags that a neighbor said appeared to be filled with bulky contents. Authorities also removed boxes with clear plastic bags in them. Two flatbed trucks hauled two vehicles away from the property.

This article based in part on wire reports.

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