Powder Mailed to Banks and FDIC Office

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The FBI is investigating a series of letters containing suspicious powder that were sent to more than two dozen J.P. Morgan Chase banks and other financial institutions this week, law enforcement officials said yesterday.

The bureau is working in concert with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and state authorities to determine the source of the letters and the powdery substance they hold. FBI Special Agent Richard Kolko said that preliminary field tests on the substance have so far come up "negative" but that additional studies would be performed at local laboratories.

"Even sending a hoax letter is a serious crime," said Kolko, who urged anyone with information to contact law enforcement officials.

More than 30 threatening letters were mailed to Chase banks in Elgin, Ill.; Columbus, Ohio; Denver; Newark; and Oklahoma City. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. office on North Fairfax Drive in Arlington received a similar missive. No injuries have been reported from exposure to the powder.

Tom Kelly, a Chase spokesman, said the material in the letters was "harmless," according to early lab results provided to the bank.

The letters appear to have originated in southern Texas, according to people familiar with the documents. Their text has not been released to the public. A spokeswoman for the Postal Service said the investigation being conducted by the Joint Terrorism Task Force continues.

-- Carrie Johnson

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