Florida Man Arrested for Anthrax Hoax

posted by Alan McBride -

A federal court in Ocala reported the arrest of a Fruitland Park man this week.

According to court documents, the suspect allegedly sent a hoax anthrax letter to the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

He has also been charged with mailing a threatening communication, authorities say. 

The suspect, according to charging documents, is  Jerry Nelson Stinchcomb, 50, and he could face up to 15 years in federal prison if convicted.

He is only charged in connection with mailing a hoax letter to the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

According to a criminal complaint, however, between December 1, 2017 and May 31 of this year, a series of envelopes containing a white powdery substance and threatening letters were mailed to various entities in Lake, Volusia, Sumter and Orange Counties. 

Based on current information, Stinchcomb does not appear to have been charged in connection with those mailings yet.

Officials say those mailings caused local HAZMAT teams, the Florida Department of Health, local law enforcement and other agencies to respond. 

In each case, investigators say the correspondence contained black letters that had been generated by a label-maker.  

From March through April of this year, employees of the Fruitland Park Post Office reportedly intercepted letters with same labeling type. 

Officials say they were able to identify Stinchcomb as the person responsible for mailing an anthrax hoax letter on May 30 of this year, using a Fruitland Park postal collection box. 

Investigators say that letter contained a white powdery substance and a note reading, "anthrax," and was addressed to the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

The case is being investigated by the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, with assistance from other enforcement agencies.

Officials note a complaint is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

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