A disgruntled dock worker has been charged with sending threatening letters containing white powder to The Seattle Times earlier this year.
Jason Steadman, 35, of Seattle, appeared in U.S. District Court in Seattle on Monday to hear the charges against him and potential penalties. He also was assigned a court-appointed public defender.
Steadman is charged with five counts of sending threatening letters or communications. Each count carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Steadman "looks forward to his process playing out and having his day in court," said his attorney, Dennis Carroll.
Federal prosecutors are handling the case because it has elements of terrorism, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce Miyake. "Anybody who puts powder in a letter today intends for the recipient to believe it's anthrax," Miyake said.
A laboratory analysis determined the powder was cornstarch.
Steadman was a truck driver and dock clerk for Penske Logistics, the company that hauls newspapers from The Times' Bothell printing plant to warehouses around metropolitan Seattle, where the papers are then divided up for carriers.
According to a complaint filed by FBI Special Agent K. Erika Jensen, he threatened and harassed his superiors over several months.
He mailed a letter containing a death threat and white powder to the newspaper's Seattle office in early October, the complaint said. On the same day, he sent similar letters to four Times and Penske managers at the newspaper's plant in Bothell, the complaint alleges.