SPOKANE — A federal grand jury on Wednesday indicted a Spokane man accused of mailing a threatening letter containing the poison ricin to President Barack Obama.
The indictment contends that Matthew Buquet, 37, developed the biological agent in violation of federal law, and that he further violated the law by mailing letters containing ricin to Obama and U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle of Spokane.
The letters also contained the statement: “We have a bomb placed. We are going to Kill you. Hezbollah,” according to the indictment.
Buquet was arrested last month in connection with the sending of five ricin-laced letters from Spokane. The other letters were mailed to a Spokane post office, Fairchild Air Force Base and the CIA.
No one was hurt.
No motive has been offered for the mailings.
Buquet most recently worked as a janitor, and was a registered sex offender who lived in a rundown apartment building near downtown Spokane.
He has waived his right to a bail hearing and remains in jail. Earlier he pleaded not guilty to one charge of mailing a threatening communication.
A search of public records shows Buquet doesn’t appear to have any close relatives. A Facebook page with his name and photo says he’s originally from Bogota, Colombia, and studied electronic engineering technology at ITT Technical Institute in Spokane Valley.
Ricin is a highly toxic substance made from castor beans. As little as 500 micrograms, the size of the head of a pin, can kill an adult if inhaled or ingested. The recipe for making the poison is readily available on the Internet.
The FBI has said the Spokane investigation is not believed to be connected to an earlier case in which letters containing ricin were addressed to President Obama, a U.S. senator and a Mississippi judge. A Mississippi man was arrested in that case.