Boston Man Charged: Possession of toxins for weapons use, threat to use weapons of mass destruction

Boston FBI announced today that MICHAEL A. CROOKER, age 53,…

Boston FBI announced today that MICHAEL A. CROOKER, age 53, formerly of Feeding Hills, Massachusetts, was charged in a indictment with three counts of possessing toxins (ricin and abrin) for use as a weapon; mailing a threatening letter; threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction, to wit, ricin; threatening to transfer a toxin to another for use as a weapon; possession of a toxin by a “restricted person” and possession of a toxin without the required registration, and of a type and in a quantity that was not justified for peaceful purposes.

The indictment alleges that in or about June 2004, CROOKER possessed the toxins ricin and abrin in the form of castor beans and rosary peas, respectively, that is, “in its naturally occurring environment, that had not been extracted from its natural source” with intent to extract the toxins and use them as weapons. In addition, the indictment alleges that he possessed a quantity of ricin that had been processed, and was recovered in August 2004. Further, the indictment alleges that, in letters written in July 2004 – one to a local newspaper and another to an Assistant United States Attorney, CROOKER threatened to transfer the toxins to another and to launch an attack on the federal building in Springfield, using a weapon of mass destruction. CROOKER, as a convicted felon and drug user, was also charged with possession of toxin by a “restricted person.” Finally, he was charged with possession of toxin without proper registration, and possession of a toxin of a type and quantity not justified by research or other peaceful purpose.

If convicted of any of the three counts of possession of toxins for use as a weapon, the count of threatening to transfer a toxin to another for use as a weapon, or the count of threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction, CROOKER faces up to life imprisonment on each of the counts, to be followed by five years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine. If convicted on the charge of mailing a threatening communication, or the charge of possession of a toxin by a restricted person, and of a type or quantity not justified for peaceful purposes, CROOKER faces up to 10 years’ imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine, on each count.

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