LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A 78-year-old Arkansas man has been sentenced to a year of probation after mailing white powder and a threatening letter about slavery reparations to Republican Sen. Tom Cotton’s office in Washington two years ago.
Henry Edward Goodloe, who is black, pleaded guilty in federal court last August to a count of conveying false information about possessing a biological weapon for the letter that he mailed to the white senator. He admitted to mailing an envelope containing a modest amount of white powder, wrapped in plastic, to Cotton’s office, in addition to a note stating, “You ignored me. Maybe this will get your attention.”
During Tuesday’s sentencing, U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker admonished Goodloe to have “no communication or other interaction” with Cotton without receiving permission from the U.S. Probation Office, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.
She told Goodloe that while “it’s reasonable to expect a response from your elected officials,” his method of complaining “is a crime.”
A Senate mail facility intercepted the letter, which included Goodloe’s home address in Pine Bluff, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) southeast of Little Rock. A hazardous response team determined that the powder was unbleached flour and starch, according to prosecutors.
His lawyer, Nicole Lybrand, said in court papers that “after discussing it all with the FBI agents, Mr. Goodloe agreed that it was not a good idea and that his thinking at the time that he mailed it was different than his thinking now.”
Cotton’s spokesman, James Arnold, said that “in general, we respond to everyone who contacts the office unless they’ve established a pattern of aggressive or abusive behavior.”
Letters containing white powder have been seen as a potential threat since several containing powder that proved to be anthrax spores were sent to news organizations and U.S. senators in 2001, killing five people.