Fla. woman accused in anthrax threats to senators

White powdery substance received in letters last summer was not hazardous

Published On: Jul 24 2012 11:28:41 AM EDT   Updated On: Jul 24 2012 09:00:30 PM EDT
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

A 45-year-old Jasper woman was indicted and pleaded not guilty Tuesday on nine counts of mailing hoax anthrax letters after investigators linked her to the white powdery substance received by the Jacksonville offices of U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson last summer.

According to the indictment, between June 24, 2011, and June 28, 2011, Kathryn Allen mailed threatening letters containing a white powdery substance to the senators' offices.

She also mailed similar letters to the Hamilton County Correctional Institution, the Hamilton County Health Department, the Hamilton County Tax Collector's Office, the Florida Department of Children and Families, and to three private citizens, according to the indictment.

Field and laboratory testing determined that the white powdery substance was not hazardous.

Prosecutors would not say what the motive was for the nine letters, but said the nine people or agencies that received them are not in danger, and furthermore, the target of the alleged plot was none of them. They would not elaborate.

"The fact that this person would send this off under the presumption that it's anthrax is a very serious offense," Channel 4 crime analyst Ken Jefferson said. "Not so much because it was mailed to the senators, but because it was the threat of anthrax is what makes it a federal offense."

Allen was arrested by the FBI on Tuesday morning at her home in Jasper. She made her first appearance in court Tuesday afternoon and was released on $10,000 bail.

Allen's husband said his wife did not send those letters, but would not say anything else.

"Law enforcement did its job. Now it's a legal matter and will be decided in the courts," Nelson's office said in a statement.

"We appreciate law enforcement's diligence in working to apprehend the suspect and helping us continue to serve our constituents," Rubio's office said in a statement.

A tentative trial date of Oct. 1 was set. If convicted on all counts, Allen faces up to 45 years in federal prison.