SALT LAKE CITY — Federal prosecutors charged a Logan man who allegedly mailed ricin to the White House with making threats using a biological weapon against the president and other government leaders Thursday.
A federal grand jury returned a seven-count indictment against William Clyde Allen III charging him with threatening to use a biological toxin as a weapon, mailing a threat against the president and mailing threatening communications to an officer or employee of the United States.
Allen, 39, pleaded not guilty in a brief appearance in U.S. District Court on Thursday. Magistrate Judge Dustin Pead scheduled a trial to start Dec. 26.
Allen allegedly sent letters to President Donald Trump, Defense Secretary James N. Mattis, CIA Director Gina Haspel, FBI Director Christopher Wray, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and U.S. Navy Adm. John M. Richardson containing "castor bean material" and a note with the message, 'Jack and the Missile Bean Stock Powder,'" according to the indictment.
Prosecutor Dave Backman said tests of the ground castor beans in the letters came back positive for ricin, a deadly poison.
The letters were mailed on the same day but arrived on different days, Backman said. He declined to comment on Allen's motivation for allegedly sending the letters.
The investigation started earlier this month after letters addressed to some of Washington's top leaders and containing possible ricin were discovered at a shipping office. The letters did not actually enter the White House or the Pentagon.
FBI investigators were led to Allen's home in Logan because he put his return address on all the letters, court documents state.
Allen, who served in the Navy, told investigators that he had bought about 100 castor beans from eBay and that he had done research on ricin and castor beans, according to court documents.1 comment on this story
When asked why he purchased the beans, Allen said "he wanted to have them in case World War III broke out" and further elaborated that "he could make them useful, to bear arms and to defend our nation."
The judge earlier this week found Allen to be a danger to the community and ordered him to remain behind bars. He is being held in the Davis County Jail.
Allen faces life in prison if convicted of threatening to use a biological toxin as a weapon. Mailing a threat against the president carries a five-year prison term and mailing a threatening communication to a government official a 10-year term.