Chicago Man Admits Mailing Scores of Threats, Including to Police Officers and Families, After Cougar was Killed in 2008
|U.S. Attorney’s Office January 16, 2014|
CHICAGO—Following a lengthy investigation by the FBI-led Chicago Joint Terrorism Task Force, a Chicago man admitted today in federal court that he mailed more than 90 threatening and/or harassing letters to Chicago police officers, other government and law enforcement officials, private individuals, schools, and religious institutions in the Chicago area between November 2003 and December 2012.
The defendant, Richard D. Hyerczyk, 54, of Chicago’s Garfield Ridge neighborhood, pleaded guilty to one count of mailing a threatening communication at his arraignment after being charged in a criminal information filed last week in U.S. District Court. Hyerczyk was released on his own recognizance after prosecutors said he had been cooperative in the investigation and was not believed to be a danger to the community or a risk of flight.
Hyerczyk faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and his plea agreement anticipates an advisory federal sentencing guideline range of 33 to 41 months in prison. U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman set sentencing for April 11.
Hyerczyk pleaded guilty to mailing a letter on April 21, 2008, that threatened to kill Chicago Police Department officers and members of their families. That letter followed local news media reports on April 15, 2008, that Chicago police officers had shot and killed a cougar that was located on the city’s north side. Hyerczyk admitted that he drafted letters containing threats to kill and commit violence against CPD officers and members of their families.
The plea agreement details one such letter, which began with the salutation, “Dear Cougar Killers (aka Chicago PIG Police),” and included the following threatening messages: “Prepare to DIE like the Cougar you killed. On May 4th at your St. Jude Memorial March several PIGS will be shot by snipers”; “BURN down the Daley house in Michigan”; and “Kill any Police Officer, where ever they are found, like they killed the Cougar.”
Hyerczyk admitted that he drafted a second letter, which contained a title that referenced a severely injured former Chicago police officer by name and referred to the officer as the “PARALIZED [sic] PIG” and which title contained the phrase “St. Jude Memorial PIG March.” This second letter threatened that “[a] police officer will be SHOT DEAD, like they shot the cougar, at the May 4th St. Jude Memorial PIG March”; “A celebration of DEAD police officers. Ha ha ha ha you are all better off DEAD”; and “When the PIGS are at the parade, we will be at their homes. You can't guard every PIGS house...watch your young children.”
After drafting these letters, Hyerczyk printed multiple copies of each and placed them into envelopes bearing first class postage and addressed to, among others: a university in Orland Park; the same university’s office of graduate studies in Chicago; the same university’s English Department in Chicago; and a Chicago Police officer and executive officer of a Fraternal Order of Police lodge in Chicago.
In pleading guilty, Hyerczyk admitted that he mailed these letters knowing and intending that they would be interpreted as threatening by the intended victims, including Chicago Police officers and their families.
The Chicago Joint Terrorism Task Force began investigating the threatening letters in this case after they were first received in 2003. Diligent investigation by agents resulted in a federal search warrant being executed on Hyerczyk’s residence and automobile, as well as for his DNA, in January 2013. The JTTF is composed of special agents of the FBI, officers of the Chicago Police Department, and representatives from an additional 20 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.
The guilty plea was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert J. Holley, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Veatch and Steven Dollear.