U.S. Attorney's Office
Northern District of New York
(315) 448-0672
June 3, 2015

Cicero Man Sentenced for Anthrax and Ricin Hoax Letters

UTICA, NY—A man who previously pled guilty to mailing letters falsely claiming to contain deadly anthrax or ricin was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Utica. Brian D. Norton, 60, of Cicero, NY, was sentenced to thirty-three (33) months in prison, to be followed by a term of three (3) years on supervised release, according to U.S. Attorney Richard S. Hartunian and Andrew W. Vale, Special Agent in Charge, FBI – Albany Division. The sentence was in connection with the series of 21 or more death threat letters the defendant mailed to individuals, businesses, law enforcement groups, schools, and public officials from November 1997 through December 2011.

Norton’s plea agreement included his admission that he had written the letters and that all but one had contained a white powder, which he falsely claimed was anthrax or ricin. The letters were sent to Bishop Ludden Junior-Senior High School, Lemoyne College, federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere. Norton also sent letters to United States Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), former Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY 25th), then U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, veterans’ and military organizations, and several private individuals who work in the public media.

“This conviction reflects the sustained efforts of prosecutors and federal agents working together over a long period to bring the defendant to justice. Starting with little more than anonymous letters, we investigated, charged and convicted the defendant of this crime, which is an offense that by its nature caused understandable fear and concern to many victims. The sentence imposed today represents some measure of justice for them,” said United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian.

“Mailing letters threatening imminent death and containing unknown substances is a serious crime that results in the use of precious law enforcement resources,” said Special Agent in Charge, Andrew W. Vale. “Threatening letters, whether or not they are a hoax, will be thoroughly investigated by the FBI and our law enforcement partners.”

The sentencing today is the culmination of a long-term, nationwide investigation by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) Syracuse Resident Office assisted by the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (Syracuse). The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen C. Green of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York, Syracuse. Further questions may be directed to Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney John Duncan at 315-448-0672.

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