Inmate Pleads to Threatening Boston Fed Prosecutor

By Allan Lengel

Some people don’t really want to get out of prison. Michael Crooker might be one of those folks.

Crooker, 57, who has been in prison since June 2004, pleaded guilty Monday in Boston to illegally possessing deadly ricin and using the mail to threaten a federal prosecutor.

The prosecutor told the court Monday that Crooker was charged on June 23, 2004 with using the U.S. mail to transport a firearm.

At the time, agents searched Crooker’s Agawam, Mass. apartment and found a weapons lab replete with deadly chemicals that could be used to make powerful explosives, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Agents also found castor seeds, which can be used to make deadly ricin and other dangerous materials.

While jailed and awaiting trial on the firearms charge, Crooker told two fellow inmates that he knew how to make ricin and possessed ricin and discussed how to mail it.

On July 22, 2004,  while behind bars, he sent a letter to the Assistant U.S. Attorney prosecuting the firearms case, invoked the name of Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh and wrote: “As Martyr McVeigh’s T-shirt says: ‘The Tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time by blood of patriots and tyrants.’” Crooker challenged the prosecutor to “bring on your [expletive deleted] and I’ll bring on mine,” and warned that even someone in prison could send toxins through the mail and cripple the postal system.

In August 2004, Crooker’s father unearthed a buried vial of powdered ricin on the his property that belonged to his son —  enough to kill 150 to 750 people, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.  Authorities said Crooker admitted to possessing the ricin and had it stashed at his father’s home for  three or four years. Sentencing is set for June 20.


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