Federal prosecutors said Thursday they arrested a Massachusetts man they say was behind the terrorizing notes containing white powder, which were sent to the home of Donald Trump Jr. and four other high-profile individuals.
Daniel Frisiello of Beverly, Massachusetts, was arrested and charged with mailing a threat to injure a person and with spreading false information and hoaxes.
If convicted, Mr. Frisiello could spend five years in prison for each threat mailed to a private citizen and 10 years in prison for each threat sent to a federal official. The false information and hoaxes charge carries a sentence of up to five years, the Justice Department said.
Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The white powder turned out to be harmless corn starch, officials said. But it was concerning enough that Mr. Trump’s wife Vanessa was treated a hospital for coughing and nausea.
Mr. Frisiello is a staunch supporter of Democratic causes, according to his Facebook page. It is filled with anti-Trump and pro-Obama postings, along with comments blasting the National Rife Association. His “likes” include Rep Adam Schiff, California Democrat, “Boycott All Things Trump,” and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating President Trump’s possible ties to Russia.
Prosecutors accuse Mr. Frisiello of also sending powder, along with notes indicating the powder was dangerous, to Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Michigan Democrat; Antonio Sabato Jr., a former soap-opera star who is running as a Republican for a California congressional seat; Nicola T. Hanna, interim U.S. Attorney for Central District of California; and Michelle Dauber, a law professor at Stanford University.
The letter mailed to Mr. Trump was postmarked in Boston. It referred to the president’s son as “an awful, awful person” and said “you are getting what you deserve. So shut the [expletive] UP!”
Mr. Hanna’s letter referenced Mark Salling, a former star of the TV show “Glee” who killed himself after he was being prosecuted on child-pornography charges: “That’s for murdering Mark Salling! I hope you end up the same place as Salling.”
Prosecutors say Mr. Frisiello targeted Ms. Stabenow because of her defense of Randall Margraves, the man who attacked the sex-abusing gymnastics coach whose victims included three of his daughters. “If you condone Margraves reaction to his daughter’s testimony on Dr. [Larry] Nassar, you are not better than he is,” read the letter, which included vulgar language.
“This investigation should remind people that law enforcement will prioritize finding and charging those who try to cause panic by sending threatening letters containing what looks like dangerous substances,” said United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Andrew E. Lelling.
“Beyond terrifying the victims, these incidents caused law enforcement agencies around the country to spend time and money deploying emergency response units.”
Federal agents said they traced financial records that linked Mr. Frisiello to a “glitter bomb” that was sent to Ms. Dauber. A glitter bomb is a letter that, when opened, spills out onto the recipient. Trash recovered from Mr. Frisiello’s residence appeared to contain the remnants of the cut-out messages allegedly sent to victims.
The FBI’s Boston Division’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Secret Service and Beverly Police Department collaborated on the investigation.