New Mexico Man Indicted Over Threats, Powder Mailed to Banks

A New Mexico man was indicted Tuesday for allegedly mailing threatening letters containing suspicious powder to dozens of banks and federal offices across the country last fall.

Richard Leon Goyette, 47, of Albuquerque, faces one count of threats and false information and 64 counts of threats and hoaxes for allegedly mailing the letters from Amarillo to 52 offices and banks in 11 states and the District of Columbia, according to a release Tuesday from the U.S. attorney in Dallas.

No one was injured by opening the letters. The powder turned out to be calcium carbonate, a major component of chalkboard chalk.

Goyette's attorney in Amarillo, Brooks W. Barfield Jr., did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Goyette, who officials say was apparently upset about losing tens of thousands of dollars in a bank failure, has been in federal custody since his Feb. 2 arrest at the Albuquerque airport.

He is accused of sending some of the 64 letters in October to Chase Bank locations in Colorado, Arizona, Illinois, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Ohio. Authorities say he sent others to Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation offices in Dallas, Arlington, Va., and Washington, D.C., and to offices of the Office of Thrift Supervision in Washington, Chicago, Daly City, Calif., Jersey City, N.J., and Irving, Texas.

Each of the letters contained white powder and the threat that the person breathing the powder would die within 10 days.

A 65th letter, sent to the headquarters of JPMorgan Chase in New York City, contained no powder but included a threat of the "McVeighing of your corporate headquarters within six months," the release states. Timothy McVeigh was executed for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, which killed 168 people.

Officials said Goyette sent e-mails in late September to the Office of Thrift Supervision, a federal agency that a day earlier had taken over Washington Mutual Inc. Goyette wrote that he lost $63,525 in stock because of the bank's failure.

Three days later, Goyette sent another e-mail to the same agency and this time provided his name and his post office box in Tijeras, N.M., a small community near Albuquerque, officials said. Goyette wrote: "This seizure was the final straw and I will now pursue any path to get the return of my investment. Since legal means are apparently useless, I will have to consider any viable method applicable to rightfully reclaim my stolen funds."

JPMorgan Chase & Co. bought Washington Mutual's deposits, branches and loan portfolio from the FDIC in September for $1.9 billion.

About three weeks after the e-mails, threatening letters began showing up at the FDIC, the Office of Thrift Supervision and JPMorgan Chase branches, officials said.

The day before the letters were postmarked from Amarillo, Goyette used a credit card to rent a car in Albuquerque and obtained permission to drive the car in Texas. He returned the car a day later, having put 630 miles on it, a bit more than twice the distance between the two cities, officials said.

If convicted on the threats and false information count, Goyette faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Each of the 64 threats and hoaxes counts carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.