Kremmling man arrested for sending letter containing white powder to Colorado Department of Revenue
June 1, 2011
DENVER – Matthew O’Neill, age 51, of Kremmling, Colorado, was arrested without incident yesterday by Special Agents with the FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service, after being charged by Criminal Complaint for false information and hoaxes related to a terrorism offense. O’Neill is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Denver this afternoon before Magistrate Judge Kathleen M. Tafoya, where he will be advised of the charge pending against him.
According to the affidavit in support of the Criminal Complaint, on May 25, 2011, a mail room employee with the Colorado Department of Revenue received a letter-sized manila envelope addressed to the State of Colorado; Colorado Department of Revenue; 1375 Sherman Street in Denver. The envelope had Postal Service markings indicating that it was mailed from the United States Post Office in Kremmling, Colorado. The return address indicated that the envelope was mailed by Matthew O’Neill.
A mail room employee opened the envelope, removing the documents and attaching them to the outside of the envelope. This process is common for all documents mailed to the Department of Revenue. The envelope went to a Department of Revenue employee working on O’Neill’s state tax case. That person took the envelope to her office, and placed it on her desk. An unidentified white powder then fell out of the envelope and onto the desk. The envelope and its contents were then taken to another person’s office. That person promptly placed the enveloped on the desk, left the office, locking the door behind her. She then contacted the Colorado State Patrol and 911. Both employees believed that they had been exposed to some kind of harmful chemical or biological substance, so they attempted to decontaminate themselves by washing their hands.
The Denver Fire Department HAZMAT team entered the building utilizing proper protective equipment to maintain their safety while dealing with an unknown hazardous substance. The HAZMAT team field tested the powder in the envelope, discovering it was sodium bicarbonate, a non-hazardous substance. Further investigation led agents and officers to O’Neill’s post office box and ultimately his residence in Kremmling. According to the documents contained in the original envelope, O’Neill owed over $15,000 in back taxes from 2006 and 2007 to the State of Colorado.
If convicted, O’Neill faces not more than 5 years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 fine for false information and hoaxes related to a terrorism offense.
This case was investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service with support from the Colorado State Patrol, the Denver Fire Department and the Kremmling Police Department.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Holloway.
A Criminal Complaint is a probable cause charging document. Anyone accused of committing a felony violation of federal law has a Constitutional right to be indicted by a federal grand jury.
The charge contained in the Criminal Complaint is an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.