BANGOR, Maine — A jury found Suzanne Muscara guilty of mailing a threatening message to Sen. Susan Collins last October.
The Burlington woman said the letter she addressed to Sen. Collins' home in Bangor which claimed to contain anthrax was intended as just "a joke."
Muscara told FBI agents the white powder she put into the envelop was only baking soda, but found it funny to pass of the substance as anthrax.
The letter was intercepted by the U.S. Postal Service which had started screening the senator's mail after she had received another letter two days earlier claiming to contain poison.
Inside the envelope from Muscara was an Atena insurance flyer with a handwritten note reading: "Anthrax!!! HA HA HA." There was also a drawing of a person with two Xs for eyes and a tongue sticking out with an arrow that read: "You."
Muscara does not dispute that she sent a letter to Collins on October 17, 2018, but she said the letter was not threatening. When she was questioned by the FBI she said she thought it was just a joke.
Sen. Collins' husband, Tom Daffron, received a different threatening letter alleging to contain the toxin ricin just two days earlier on October 15, 2018. The letter was postmarked with a Washington state location, but the sender has yet to be found or charged by authorities.
Muscara was identified as the sender of the second letter because of a fingerprint the FBI found on the outside of the envelope. Authorities arrested Muscara at her Burlington home on April 5, 2019.
Muscara's letter was intercepted in the Hampden mail sorting facility by a postal inspector.
United States Postal Inspector Troy Dumond said during his testimony Monday that "a chunk of white powder fell on the floor" when he was thumbing through Sen. Collins and Tom Daffron's mail.
Dumond described the substance as "bright, white powder, a lot of it." The letter was taken to the state facility in Augusta for further testing. Dumond said there was no media coverage of the event and that he didn't submit a report because officials didn't want any copycats.
"It wasn't a threat, I just thought the note itself was funny," Muscara said in an FBI interview that was replayed in court Monday. Muscara also told FBI agents she didn't even know who Sen. Collins was because she doesn't pay attention to politics. Muscara said she had heard about the Brett Kavanaugh hearings and about people protesting Collins' vote.
The jury found Muscara guilty after just one day of the trial on November 4 at the U.S. District Court in Bangor. Muscara will remain held without bail until her sentencing.
Senator Collins' office released a statement saying, “Senator Collins and her husband, Tom Daffron, are grateful for the extraordinary professionalism and effective investigative work by state and federal law enforcement agencies.”