Authorities have arrested the suspect they believe mailed at least 65 threatening letters to financial firms last year, most of which contained white powder later determined to be harmless.
According to the criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday, Richard Goyette, of Tijeras, N.M., mailed the letters from Amarillo, Texas, Oct. 18, 2008, and addressed them to JPMorgan Chase banks around the United States, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Office of Thrift Supervision in Washington, D.C.
A criminal complaint in the case alleges that Goyette, a former resident of Amarillo, used a rental car to drive there from his home outside Albuquerque to deposit the threatening letters in an attempt to cover his movements.
Goyette was arrested Monday by federal agents in Albuquerque. Goyette allegedly mailed 64 letters that contained white powder and sent one additional letter making a bomb threat, according to the indictment.
The letters also contained a note claiming that a person would die within 10 days after breathing the powder. According to the criminal complaint, "The letter to JPMorgan Chase & Co. did not contain white powder but included a threat of 'McVeighing of your corporate headquarters within six months,'" a reference to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh, who was executed for the crime in 2001.
According to the FBI affidavit in the case, a review of Goyette's financial records and brokerage accounts showed that he lost more than $63,000 on Washington Mutual stock. The investigation also revealed that a month before the letters were mailed, Goyette sent e-mails to the Office of Thrift Supervision and the FDIC, accusing them of being corrupt for taking over Washington Mutual, which went into government receivership Sept. 25.
In a Sept. 29 e-mail to OTS from his Yahoo account, Goyette allegedly wrote, "This seizure was the final straw, and I will now pursue any path to get the return of my investment."
The FBI affidavit in the case alleges that the 65 letters were received in 11 different states and in Washington, D.C. The FBI worked on the case with the U.S. Postal Service inspectors and the U.S. attorney's office in Dallas.
The criminal complaint charges that Goyette knowingly and intentionally conveyed false and misleading information when he sent the letters, which violated the federal false information and hoaxes statute. Each offense carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
In a statement, Inspector Randall Till of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service said, "Richard Goyette's arrest as the mailer of the 'Chase Bank letters' should serve as a warning to those who believe they can anonymously use the mail to terrorize the American public."
Goyette is expected to make his initial appearance today before a federal magistrate; his attorney could not be reached for comment.