Mass. man charged with mailing powder to Stabenow
Washington — Federal authorities on Thursday arrested a Massachusetts man in connection with sending threatening letters with “suspicious” white powder inside to Democratic Michigan U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Donald Trump Jr., and three others around the country.
Daniel Frisiello, 24, of Beverly was charged with five counts of mailing a threat to injure a person and five counts of false information and hoaxes, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts.
Investigators allege that Frisiello was involved in at least five cases of high-profile individuals receiving an envelope with a Boston postmark that contained suspicious white powder and a note indicating the powder was dangerous or intended to cause harm. The Federal Bureau of Investigation determined the powder contained no toxins or poisons.
“Beyond terrifying the victims, these incidents caused law enforcement agencies around the country to spend time and money deploying emergency response units,” U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew E. Lelling said in a statement.
“Thankfully, the white powder in these letters was inert, and no one was harmed. This does not change the fact that the defendant allegedly used the internet, the U.S. Mail, and popular fears of biological weapons to threaten and frighten people who did not share his views, and that is something we will prosecuted accordingly.”
A Stabenow spokesman declined to elaborate on the matter. “To ensure the safety of our staff and constituents, our office doesn’t comment on threats or other security matters,” he said.
The first envelope that Frisiello allegedly sent was addressed to “DonalD trump Jr,” the son of President Donald Trump, and postmarked Feb. 7, 2018.
Trump Jr.’s wife Vanessa opened the envelope, which contained white powder and a printed message: “You are an awful, awful person, I am surprised that your father lets you speak on TV. You make the family idiot, Eric, look smart. This is the reason why people hate you, so you are getting what you deserve. So shut the **** UP!”
The second envelope, also postmarked Feb. 7, was addressed to Nicola T. Hanna, the interim U.S. attorney for the Central District of California, and contained white powder, which spilled out when opened.
The letter inside accused Hanna of “murdering” Mark Salling who was a defendant in a child pornography case that was being prosecuted by Hanna’s office when Salling committed suicide in January, according to the allegations in court documents.
The letter to Stabenow, postmarked Feb. 12, was mailed to her Lansing office. White powder spilled out when it was opened there Feb. 15, leading to a hazardous-material response from local and federal law enforcement officers, according to charging documents.
The letter contained a typewritten message that referred to Randy Margraves, the father of three girls abused by sports doctor Larry Nassar, who is serving a life sentence for sex crimes and possession of child pornography.
Margraves tried to attack Nassar in an Eaton County courtroom earlier this year and had to be restrained. Afterward, Stabenow said at a news conference that she would have liked five minutes with Nassar, and wished security had been a little slower, so that Margraves “could have gotten a couple punches out.”
The message said: “If you condone Margraves reaction to his daughter’s testimony on Dr. Nassar you are no better than he is. You deserve what is coming to you ...”
Investigators also alleged that Frisiello’s Facebook account posted an ESPN story on Feb. 8 reporting Stabenow’s remarks, commenting that “Good god now the Democrats are going off the rails,” and saying he was “embarrassed” to be in the same party as Stabenow.
Authorities allege that other envelopes with threatening letters were mailed to Michele Dauber, a law professor at Stanford University; and Antonio Sabato Jr., an actor and Republican running for Congress in California. Dauber was also sent a “glitter bomb,” or an envelope containing glitter that spills out when opened.
“There are plenty of appropriate, lawful ways to express your opinion and voice your displeasure, but inducing panic and sending what is believed to be a weapon of mass destruction through the mail is certainly not one of them,” Harold H. Shaw, special agent in charge of the FBI Boston Division, said in a statement.
Frisiello faces a sentence of up to 10 years in prison for each charge of threats by mail to a federal official or a fine of $250,000, and up to five years in prison and $250,000 fine for each charge of false information and hoaxes.