Washington (CNN) – “Authorities arrested a woman on Friday who is accused of sending a threatening letter to Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine last year, the Justice Department announced Monday.”
A criminal complaint against Suzanne Muscara dated Friday accused the Maine woman of violating a federal law against mailing threats by sending a letter last October to Collins shortly after her vote in favor of Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.
Court documents said Muscara’s initial appearance was held in Bangor, Maine, on Monday afternoon and that Muscara was “ordered temporarily detained” with a preliminary hearing set for next week.
Halsey Frank, the US attorney for Maine, announced Muscara’s arrest and charging in a statement Monday morning, and an attorney listed in the federal court system for Muscara did not immediately return a request for comment.
The statement from Frank’s office said if convicted, Muscara “faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.”
According to the Miami Herald via the Associated Press, the affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Bangor, Maine allege that “Suzanne Muscara mailed starch to the senator’s husband, Thomas Daffron, with a letter that claimed to have been coated with “ricin residue.””
Last October, Collins’ spokesperson said Daffron, Collins’ husband, “received a threatening letter that the writer claimed was contaminated with ricin,” a highly toxic substance.
The complaint against Muscara cited FBI agent Michel Verhar, who said in an affidavit that an initial letter sent to Daffron said, “Good luck to you and Susan in the next life” and that the letter claimed to be coated in ricin, but that tests showed “no hazardous materials were present.”
Verhar said after the initial letter, a postal inspector was assigned to screen all mail sent to Collins’ residence and that inspector observed “a fine white powder” leaking from an envelope addressed to Collins. Tests showed the envelope tested negative for toxins, according to Verhar, and contained a flyer inside that read, “AnthRAX!!! HA HA HA!!!” along with a stick figure “with the letter ‘X’ for eyes, the tongue sticking out, and with ‘You’ and an arrow pointing at the stick figure face.”
The FBI determined the white powder was starch and found a fingerprint that matched Muscara, whose prints were in the FBI’s database after a 2013 arrest in Pennsylvania, according to Verhar.
Verhar said he and another FBI agent approached Muscara last Friday, who waived her Miranda rights and told them “she had sent an envelope by mail to Senator Susan Collins that contained a white powder” and recalled “using the word ‘anthrax.'”
According to the Miami Herald AP report, “Muscara told federal authorities she thought law enforcement would catch the letter before it reached Collins’ home and that it wouldn’t be taken seriously, WABI-TV reported . It was not clear if Muscara had a lawyer who could comment on her behalf.”