BOSTON – Authorities arrested a Massachusetts man Tuesday and charged him with mailing a bomb threat mentioning actress Jodie Foster to a Los Angeles-area airport.
U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan alleged that Michael Smegal of Holliston sent the handwritten letter, which included the words "Jodie Foster S" and "going to be a gas bomb this building," to the Van Nuys Airport in December.
More than 100 nearly identical letters, some of which also mentioned Foster, were sent to the addresses of celebrities, businesses, airports and other institutions in the area between last September and January this year, FBI Special Agent Joseph H. Altman said in an affidavit. Altman said Smegal acknowledged sending the letters and said he chose airports because he believed they had a connection with the Screen Actors Guild, which Smegal believed had made disparaging remarks against Foster.
Prosecutors say Foster began receiving anonymous letters and packages from Massachusetts in 2004. One of the packages contained a prepaid cell phone along with a request that the actress call a specific number, Altman said in the affidavit.
"Law enforcement called the number and spoke to an individual who identified himself as Michael Smegal," Altman wrote. "Smegal spoke with the agent and used the phone to send photographs of himself and his dog."
U.S. Postal inspectors interviewed Smegal at his home in 2005, and he acknowledged sending the letters and packages to Foster and promised to stop, according to the affidavit.
DNA samples from packages and letters sent in 2007 and this year matched material collected from those Smegal acknowledged sending to Foster in 2004, according to the affidavit.
Investigators searching Smegal's home on Jan. 8 found several letters identical to the one received by the Van Nuys Airport, together with printout of addresses of airports, businesses and homes in the Los Angeles area, Sullivan said in a statement.
A message left at Smegal's home was not immediately returned. It was not immediately determined if he has legal representation. The 42-year-old could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.