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Man who sent threats to banks gets prison

By Betsy Blaney
Associated Press / June 5, 2009
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LUBBOCK, Texas - A New Mexico man who sent threatening letters containing suspicious powder to dozens of banks and federal offices around the country was sentenced yesterday to nearly four years in prison.

Richard Leon Goyette, who has told the Associated Press he mailed the letters in October as part of "economic warfare," was sentenced to 3 years, 10 months on each of two counts in a federal court in Amarillo.

"I think it was a fair sentence given the inconvenience caused," said Brooks W. Barfield Jr., Goyette's lawyers.

Prosecutors declined comment, but US Postal Inspector in Charge Randall C. Till said in a statement that the sentence should serve as a warning to others.

"The US Postal Inspection Service remains vigilant, pursuing criminals like Goyette to ensure the public's trust in a safe and secure mail system," he said.

Goyette pleaded guilty in March to one count of threats and false information and one count of threats and hoaxes. The sentences will run concurrently.

He also was fined $5,000 and ordered to pay restitution of about $87,000 to reimburse the cost of the emergency response to the letters.

Goyette apparently was upset about losing more than $60,000 in Washington Mutual Bank stock he held when the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation took it over in late September, officials have said. The next day, the FDIC sold the bank's deposits, branches, and loan portfolio to JP Morgan Chase & Co. for a small fraction of their combined value.

Goyette was accused of mailing 65 suspicious letters last fall from Amarillo to the banks and offices. No one was injured from exposure to the letters, all but one of which contained a powder that was found to be calcium carbonate, a major component of blackboard chalk.

Some of the letters went to Chase Bank locations in Colorado, Arizona, Illinois, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Ohio. He sent others to the FDIC's offices in Arlington, Va., Washington, D.C., and Dallas and to thrift supervision offices in Chicago, Daly City, Calif., Jersey City, N.J., Irving, Texas, and Washington, D.C.

Each letter contained a threat that the person breathing the white powder inside would die within 10 days.