February 03, 2009

Congressman Adam Schiff Comments on DOJ Arrest in Case of Terrorist Hoax Letters

Official Seal of the US House of Representatives

Tuesday, February 03, 2009 Contact: Sean Oblack (202) 225-4176

Congressman Adam Schiff Comments on DOJ Arrest in Case of Terrorist Hoax Letters

Richard Leon Goyette charged using the Anti-Hoax Terrorism Act coauthored by Rep. Schiff

Washington, DC – Rep. Adam Schiff, coauthor of the Anti-Hoax Terrorism Act, lauded the Justice Department’s arrest of Richard Leon Goyette, a.k.a. Michael Jurek, in connection with threatening letters with a white powder sent to financial institutions in October 2008.  In 2004, Congress passed Rep. Schiff’s bill which created criminal and civil penalties for falsely reporting chemical, biological or nuclear threats including those in written or verbal form, as well as those communicated through physical actions.  This law was used by the U.S. Attorney’s office in charging Mr. Goyette with this crime.

“These actions are despicable, and anyone responsible should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said Schiff.  “Those who mimic a terrorist attack not only strike fear in our communities but also dilute law enforcement resources. Our first responders continue to struggle each day to meet the demands of keeping us safe from potential terrorist attacks. They work around the clock to strengthen and improve protocols to respond swiftly and safely in the event of a terrorist attack, and acts like these are costly distractions that we can’t afford.”

The Anti-Hoax Terrorism Act was included in the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Implementation Act (S. 2845) signed into law in 2004. The law allows for perpetrators of such hoaxes to be subject to the following penalties:

  • A prison sentence of not more than five years or a fine, or both;
  • Liability in a civil action, including the cost of a response made by any military or civilian agency to protect public health or safety; and
  • Liability for reimbursement expenses for the false impression(s) created.