Utah Man Charged in Seven-Count Federal Indictment with Threat to Use a Biological Toxin as a Weapon

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A federal grand jury in Salt Lake City returned a seven-count indictment Thursday morning charging William Clyde Allen, III, age 39, of Logan, Utah, in connection with ricin-related threats.  The indictment alleges he knowingly threatened to use a biological agent and toxin, specifically ricin, as a weapon. 

Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, U.S. Attorney John W. Huber of Utah, Special Agent in Charge Eric K. Barnhart of the FBI’s Salt Lake City Field Office, Special Agent in Charge John Gullickson of the U.S. Secret Service’s Denver Field Office, and U.S. Postal Inspector Jared D. Bingham, Team Leader in Salt Lake City, announced the indictment.

The indictment also charges Allen with one count of mailing a threat against the President and five counts of mailing threatening communications to an officer or an employee of the United States in the indictment returned Thursday morning.

Allen was arrested on a federal complaint filed Oct. 5, 2018. He was ordered detained pending resolution of the case at a detention hearing Monday. U.S. Magistrate Judge Dustin B. Pead found him to be a danger to the community.  Allen entered a plea of not guilty to the charges Thursday morning in U.S. District Court.  U.S. District Judge David Sam will preside over a four-day trial starting Dec. 26, 2018, in Salt Lake City.

The indictment alleges the defendant sent a letter to the President of the United States with the language “Jack and the Missile Bean Stock Powder” and containing castor bean material.

Five counts of the indictment charge Allen with mailing threatening communications to an officer or an employee of the United States, including Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis; Admiral John M. Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations; FBI Director Christopher A. Wray; CIA Director Gina Haspel; and Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson. 

Ricin naturally exists in, and may be extracted from, the seeds of the castor bean.  The extraction of ricin from these seeds does not require technical expertise.  Small doses of ricin are lethal to human beings if ingested, inhaled, or injected.  According to Center for Disease Control information, there are no known antidotes for poisoning from ricin. Allen purchased  380 castor beans in December 2017 in quantities of 100 (two purchases) and 30 (six purchases).

The potential maximum penalty for threatening to use a biological toxin as a weapon is life in prison.  Mailing a threat against The President has a potential maximum penalty of five years in prison and mailing a threatening communications to an officer or an employee of the United States has a potential 10-year sentence.

Indictments are not a finding of guilt.  Individuals charged in indictments are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty in court.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Salt Lake City, with the assistance of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section, is prosecuting the case.   U.S. Postal Inspectors and special agents of the FBI and U.S. Secret Service are investigating the case.

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