A Johnson City, Tenn. man was indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday in Nashville on 10 counts of sending threatening letters, including to Gov. Bill Haslam, that falsely claimed they contained anthrax, according to U.S. Attorney Jerry E. Martin.
Branden Frady, 32, is accused of sending six threatening letters between Sept. 10 and Sept. 18 to government officials from his prison cell at Riverbend Maximum Security Institute in Nashville.
Four of the six letters contained white powder that Frady claimed was anthrax, a deadly bacteria used in a series of bioterrorism attacks after Sept. 11, 2001. But none of the letters actually contained the deadly spores.
The letters were sent to Haslam, Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett, the U.S. Post Office and an assistant district attorney general for the 20th Judicial District of Tennessee in Nashville. The letters also made explicit death threats against the officials, according to Martin.
"Threats involving the use of weapons of mass destruction cause significant disruption in the workplace and to government operations," the U.S. attorney said in a news release. "Such threats often exhaust public safety resources and cause needless harm to the public. For those who choose to engage in such conduct, the U.S. Attorney's office and our law enforcement partners will act swiftly to neutralize the threat, identify those responsible and bring them to justice."
In one alleged incident in September, Frady sent a letter to the Office of the District Attorney General that contained a white powder substance. The letter contained statements such as, "Here is some anthrax," "You got to die" and "I will kill you."
Local law enforcement officers and firefighters hurried to the scene and evacuated the Nashville offices of the attorney general and other nearby buildings.
Frady is charged with sending similar letters containing threats to the office of Haslam, Hargett and the U.S. Post Office. The letter to Haslam contained threats but no white powder. A second letter to Haslam said, "This time I am sending you some anthrax" and "You will die." The letter did not contain a white powder.
The second letter to the Office of the District Attorney General said, "I'm back" and "Here is some anthrax for real" and alleged that "there is a bomb being placed in the D.A. Office, the Governor Office and the Post Office in Nashville so you will blow up."
The FBI, the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the Tennessee Department of Corrections and Metro police investigated the incidents, according to Martin.
If convicted, Frady faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of the 10 counts.