A Navy veteran from Utah confessed to sending four envelopes containing a substance used in making the poison ricin to President Donald Trump and top military chiefs, according to court documents.
William Clyde Allen III, 39, of Logan, Utah was taken into custody, federal prosecutors in Salt Lake City said Wednesday afternoon. He served as a Navy fireman apprentice, Navy records show.
Allen made the confessions while speaking with investigators after his arrest, telling them he had obtained castor seeds — which are ground and used to make the poisonous substance ricin — and mailed the letters with the ground seeds inside. The ground seeds can cause injury if swallowed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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The documents filed Wednesday night did not state a motive. He was being held on a $25,000 cash-only bond.
The arrest comes after authorities confirmed an investigation into two envelopes originally thought to contain ricin but later confirmed to contain the castor seeds, not the ricin itself.
The FBI said there were potentially hazardous chemicals involved with their operation in Utah on Wednesday, but they declined to give additional details. No attorney was immediately listed for Allen.
The envelopes addressed to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and the Navy’s top officer, Adm. John Richardson, were isolated at a mail screening facility and sent to the FBI. No one was injured, and neither envelope entered the Pentagon. Mattis is traveling in Europe this week.
An envelope also was sent to the president Monday with unknown contents. The Secret Service says it didn’t reach the White House.
Authorities are also looking into a suspicious package that was sent to Sen. Ted Cruz's campaign headquarters in Houston on Tuesday. Two people at Cruz's office were taken to the hospital after being exposed to a "white powdery substance," the Houston Fire Department told NBC DFW.
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.
A federal complaint is expected to be filed Friday.