Authorities jailed a Claremont man Friday on suspicion of sending poison-laced letters to county children’s services offices and a children’s courthouse throughout Los Angeles County.
FBI agents and federal postal inspectors arrested Martin Calvin Yarbrough Jr., 48, at his home without a struggle after being indicted Tuesday on suspicion of 13 counts of making threats and hoaxes, U.S. Attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
He pleaded not guilty Friday afternoon in federal court in Los Angeles, U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Thom Mrozek said. He was released on a $25,000 bond.
The letters were sent to Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services offices in Santa Fe Springs, Covina, El Monte, Pomona, Chatsworth, Los Angeles and Lancaster, as well as the Edmund G. Edelman Children’s Court in Monterey Park between November 2008 and May 2010, officials said.
“Each letter contained either a white powdery substance or a bluish granular substance that was later determined to be a chemical poison,” according to statement.
The white powder that was tested was determined to be boric acid, a common insecticide, and the bluish grains were determined to be warfarin, a common ingredient in rat poison, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherilyn Peace Garnett said.
When the envelopes were opened at the facilities, they prompted evacuations and heavy responses from numerous local and federal authorities, officials said.
“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 of the FBI in Los Angeles. “The major law enforcement response generated each time such a letter is received is time-consuming and accomplished at the expense of… taxpayers.”
Garnett said it was not clear what Yarbrough’s intentions were in sending the letters.
“I could only speculate on what the motive was at this time,” she said.
She also declined to say what, if any, threatening text accompanied the powder-filled envelopes.
The Covina, Lancaster, El Monte, Chatsworth and Los Angeles DCFS offices received their letter on or around Nov. 17, 2008, Garnett said. The Santa Fe Springs office received its threatening delivery on Nov. 19, 2008.
Envelopes were sent to the Pomona DCFS office on or around Aug. 7, 2009, April 9, 2010, and May 19, 2010, Garnett said.
Two envelopes arrived at the Edmund G. Edelman Children’s Court in Monterey Park around Aug. 25, 2009, she added, and the Lancaster office received an additional envelope around April 12, 2010.
If convicted as charged, Yarbrough faces up to 65 years in federal prison.