CLAREMONT — A 48-year-old man was arrested this morning by federal authorities for allegedly mailing letters containing poisonous substances to a courthouse and to several offices of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services.
Martin Calvin Yarbrough Jr. was arrested at his home in Claremont. He was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury on 13 counts of making threats and hoaxes.
Each count carries up to five years in prison, meaning Yarbrough could face a sentence of up to 65 years, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Yarbrough pleaded not guilty to criminal charges this afternoon in a Los Angeles federal courtroom. A trial was scheduled for March 22, said U.S. Attorney’s spokesman Thom Mrozek.
Yarbrough was released from custody this afternoon after posting $25,000 bail, Mrozek said.
A woman who identified herself as Yarbrough’s sister said today that she’s “speechless” over her brother’s arrest.
“There’s nothing I can really tell you right now,” said Yarbrough’s sister, who declined to give her name.
Between November 2008 and May 2010, Yarbrough allegedly mailed letters containing either a white powdery substance or a bluish granular substance that authorities determined was poisonous.
“The material was found to be poison, but not bacterial biothreat agents or other toxins like, say, ricin or anthrax,” Mrozek said.
The letters led to employee evacuations in each of the locations they were received.
The letters were mailed to the Edmund D. Edelman Children’s Court in Monterey Park, and to Department of Children and Family Services offices in Pomona, Covina, El Monte, Monterey Park, Santa Fe Springs, Los Angeles, Chatsworth and Lancaster, according to the news release.
“Using threatening letters and hoax powders to convey discontent is a serious crime and, as evidenced with the arrest of Mr. Yarbrough, has significant consequences,” said Steven Martinez, assistant director in charge of the FBI in Los Angeles.
“The major law enforcement response generated every time such a letter is received is time-consuming and accomplished at the expense of taxpayers,” he said.