WASHINGTON — Authorities say a Navy veteran has been arrested in connection with suspicious addressed to President Donald Trump, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Adm. John Richardson, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney for Utah said Wednesday.
The letters contained unprocessed castor seeds, the material from which the deadly poison ricin is derived, the Pentagon said Wednesday.
According to authorities, 39-year-old William Clyde Allen III was taken into custody Wednesday in Logan, a small city in northern Utah.
Allen served in the Navy from 1998 to 2002, according to Navy records. He worked as a damage control fireman apprentice.
Two years after his Navy tenure ended, he was charged in a child sex-abuse case involving two girls he had an unspecified “relationship of trust” with, court documents state. He later pleaded guilty to lesser neglect and abuse charges and did not have to register as a sex offender.
That same year, a woman filed a protective order against him in a separate case. He disputed her allegations, the details of which are not public, but agreed to the protective order.
In 2008, he pleaded guilty to attempted aggravated assault and served about 2 ½ years in prison, authorities said. He was released in 2011.
The contents of the envelopes intercepted Monday by Secret Service and Pentagon officials were not weaponized and posed no major threat, a defense official said. Initially, Pentagon and FBI officials believed the letters contained weaponized ricin, officials had said Tuesday.
The Secret Service said Tuesday that the envelope addressed to Trump was not received at the White House, nor did it ever enter the White House. The agency did not speak to the contents of the envelope or where it was received Monday.
The White House had no comment.
The two letters addressed to Mattis and Richardson were discovered Monday at the Pentagon’s mail sorting center, a defense official said Tuesday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the FBI was leading the probe into the incident.
Neither Mattis, who is now in Brussels, nor Richardson, the chief of naval operations, were endangered, the official said.
The letters never reached the Pentagon building, said Chris Sherwood, a Defense Department spokesman. The mail center is located on the Pentagon grounds but in a separate facility built after anthrax was found in government mail in 2001.
The FBI took custody of the envelopes, which underwent further testing Tuesday, an FBI spokeswoman said. She declined additional comment.
All mail received Monday at the Pentagon facility was quarantined, according to a Pentagon statement released Tuesday. No Pentagon personnel were endangered.
Ricin is a deadly poison that is naturally found in castor beans, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A small amount of ricin exposure by inhalation or ingestion can be deadly within three days, according to the CDC.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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