NM man arrested in mailing of ‘white powder’ letters, U.S. attorney in Dallas says

Federal officials on Tuesday announced the arrest of a 47-year-old New Mexico man in connection with the mailing of threatening letters that contained an unidentified white powder to financial institutions last fall.

Richard Leon Goyette, also known as Michael Jurek, was arrested Monday at the Albuquerque, N.M., airport just before he was to board a plane. Authorities had been following Goyette for several days.

“We have our man,” said Robert E. Casey, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas Federal Bureau of Investigation. “These mailings presented harm to the public and presented alarm and panic to the public.”

Authorities allege that Goyette sent 65 threatening letters to multiple financial institutions through the U.S. Postal Service. All were postmarked from Amarillo, Texas, on Oct. 18.

Of the 65 letters, all but one contained a white powdery substance that investigators said eventually were determined to be non-hazardous.

“Dating back to 2001, we’ve considered all suspicious mail to be serious,” said Randall C. Till, postal inspector in charge of the Fort Worth Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Goyette was apparently upset about losing money in stocks he had invested into Washington Mutual bank, which was taken over by J.P. Morgan Chase in 2008, authorities said.

Washington Mutual was one of the largest banks to fail last year.

Authorities said they tracked Goyette to computers at the University of New Mexico and Central New Mexico Community College in Albuquerque. They declined to discuss Gazette’s connection to the campuses nor would they say where he worked.

He used the computers to locate the Chase Bank locations that received the letters, authorities said.

In the letters, the writer threatened that, “any person breathing the powder would die within 10 days,” authorities said.

Goyette faces charges of knowingly and intentionally conveying false and misleading information by sending the letters to Chase Bank, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the office of Thrift Supervision.

“Mr. Goyette’s alleged criminal actions caused emergency responders and hazardous response teams immense unnecessary labor and expense, diverted personnel from actual emergencies, completely disrupted business at these financial institutions, and caused untold emotional distress to those who received the letters,” acting U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks, said in a press release.

Authorities said they don’t believe Goyette is connected to other letters containing suspicious powder that were sent in early December to Texas state offices, including that of Gov. Rick Perry.

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