Man arrested for calls threatening Washington dam

Sunday, June 15, 2003

SPOKANE, Wash. -- An eastern Washington man has been arrested on federal charges accusing him of threatening to blow up Grand Coulee Dam.

Richard Vialpando, 40, is charged with nine counts of maliciously conveying false bomb threats. He was arrested Friday at his home in Othello, about 100 miles southwest of Spokane, and ordered held without bail.

A federal indictment accuses him of making telephone threats between Aug. 21, 2001, and Feb. 5, 2002, that targeted Grand Coulee Dam, the lake behind it and a marina, as well as offices for the FBI and U.S. Secret Service in Washington state.

The caller claimed to be affiliated with two militant Islamic groups, said FBI agent Norm Brown.

Other federal officials familiar with the case told The Spokesman-Review there was no evidence suggesting Vialpando had any ties to terrorist organizations.

One call was traced to a public pay telephone, Brown said, and fingerprints from the phone booth and a telephone book matched Vialpando's.

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