A Connecticut man who pleaded guilty last year to a series of hoaxes, including sending a letter with white powder threatening to kill President Donald J. Trump, was sentenced to nine years in prison on Wednesday .
The man, Gary Joseph Gravelle, 53, of New Haven, pleaded guilty to seven counts related to the threats he made in September 2018, according to John H. Durham, the United States’ attorney in Connecticut.
In early September 2018, Mr. Gravelle sent a threatening letter addressed to Mr. Trump along with a white powdery substance that Gravelle said was anthrax, court records show. Other recipients of Mr. Gravelle’s threatening messages included federal probation officers, mental health care providers and a credit union. He also threatened to blow up planes and property at Burlington International Airport in Vermont.
Judge Kari A. Dooley of the U.S. District Court in Bridgeport, Connecticut, sentenced Gravelle to more than seven years in prison for the threats he made in 2018 and to two more years for breaching the terms of his release.
Mr Gravelle has been in jail since his arrest on September 8, 2018 and was previously jailed for sending threatening messages in 2010, according to Mr Durham’s office.
His guilt or innocence has never been widely disputed, according to officials and Mr. Gravelle’s lawyer. What has not been determined is where Mr. Gravelle, who has a history of mental illness, will serve his sentence.
According to his lawyer, Joseph Patten Brown, Mr. Gravelle is currently in the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Center in Rhode Island, where he receives medication but does not regularly see a therapist. Whether Mr. Gravelle is serving his sentence there, or in a hospital, will be determined later by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Mr. Brown said.
Mr. Brown would prefer the latter. “People like Gary are now just housed in prisons instead of places where they can at least get treatment,” he said in an interview.
In a sentencing note to the court, Mr Brown wrote that his client was “a sick man” who had “no intention of following through” his threats “or who appeared to have the capacity to do so”. Mr. Gravelle has targeted people “with no apparent role model” in terms of ideology, race or creed, Mr. Brown wrote. His client “has no other program than an ill-advised call for help.”
Prosecutors, in their sentencing note, acknowledged Mr Gravelle’s history of mental illness, but said his threats had deeply affected victims.
Mr. Gravelle’s threats “have disrupted the daily lives of many people and undoubtedly seriously frightened their recipients,” prosecutors wrote. The victims, prosecutors wrote, “have played no role in creating any of the accused’s problems, but are nevertheless forced to bear the brunt of them.”