Man accused of mailing threats to politicians, celebrities

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- A man was arrested and accused of mailing threatening letters laced with white powder to Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, David Letterman and other high-profile figures, the FBI announced Sunday.

FBI agents took Chad Conrad Castagana, 39, into custody Saturday on charges of conveying false information and sending threats via the U.S. mail, the bureau said in a statement.

Castagana, of Los Angeles, was being held in a federal detention center pending an initial court appearance today, when prosecutors were expected to file charges.

Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the federal prosecutor's office, said he did not believe Castagana had retained a lawyer but he wasn't certain. If Castagana hasn't, a public defender will be appointed prior to his court appearance.

Authorities claim he mailed threatening letters to Pelosi, Letterman, New York Sen. Charles Schumer, Jon Stewart of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" and MSNBC host Keith Olbermann.

Some letters included phrases like "Death to Demagogues" and pictures of victims of the 2004 Asian tsunami, authorities said.

While the FBI is still trying to identify the white powder, preliminary tests revealed it does not pose a biological hazard.

The letters were sent with fictitious return addresses over the past three months to addresses in New York, New Jersey and San Francisco, officials said.

Authorities said they watched Castagana, who is unemployed, walk from his home to a public mailbox Thursday and deposit several letters. One was allegedly addressed to someone previously targeted and contained the white powder, the FBI said.

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