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He waged a three-year ‘crusade of harassment’ on a family. It started with a handicap parking spot.

Frank Abbott Sweeney, 76, used a typewriter to pen his harassing postcards to two families over three years. (iStock)

For three years, the family from Idaho endured the onslaught of hate-filled postcards sent by a mystery man.

He wrote his vile messages on a manual typewriter and signed them under a pseudonym, “Carson Wells,” the name of the bounty hunter in “No Country for Old Men.” The postcards were racist and sexist, accusing the family of prostitution, sexual abuse, drunken driving and drug dealing. They appeared in mailboxes at the family’s home in Boise, at their daughter’s home in Portland, Ore., and at the husband’s dental practice.

More postcards were sent to their neighbors and to schools, and then to violent convicted criminals — prompting prisoners across the country to write 75 letters to the family’s home addresses.

The family set up a P.O. Box, but the postcards followed them. They moved, but the mystery man’s missives found them there, too. They reported the harassing letters, but the Ada County Sheriff’s Office struggled for years to identify who was sending them.

It wasn’t until December 2018 — three years after it began — that authorities got a break in the case. Another Boise-area family, they learned, was also receiving threatening postcards. Their letters were typewritten, hateful and signed by the same pseudonym, “Carson Wells.”

The families had something else in common. Weeks before their harassing postcards started arriving, they each had separate altercations with an elderly man at businesses in Garden City, Idaho.

The first encounter was in December 2015. The mother in the first family chastised the man for parking in a handicap spot at a U.S. Post Office without displaying a placard, according to law enforcement. He later showed her a handicap tag, but only after the two had a “verbal altercation.”

The second occurred at a Wells Fargo bank in October 2017. The man verbally fought with the second family, also unnamed by authorities, and drove after them.

That family told investigators they believed the old man was their harasser. This led authorities to the bank’s surveillance footage, and they created a lineup. Both families identified the man. The bank gave police his name: Frank Abbott Sweeney.

This month, four years after his postcards began flowing through the mail, the 76-year-old Sweeney was sentenced to 51 months in federal prison and three years of supervised release. He was ordered to pay a $6,000 fine for using the mail to stalk six people, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Boise. Prosecutors called Sweeney’s actions a “crusade of harassment,” reported the Idaho Statesman.

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Sweeney did not dispute those charges, not when he pleaded guilty to them in August 2019, nor when he confessed to sending the harassing postcards during an interview at the Boise Police Department.

According to court documents, Sweeney recounted his disputes with the two families, said he sent the postcards to inflict emotional distress and clearly detailed how he evaded authorities for years.

During his interview with police, Sweeney said he looked up his victims’ personal information online and hired a private investigator to track them. He only purchased prepaid postcards in small quantities and paid for them in cash, he said. He wiped his fingerprints from the letters, according to court documents, and mailed them from different locations around the city.

Sweeney took notes on the offenders featured in true crime TV shows, he told police, then researched where they were incarcerated so he could bait the prisoners into sending the families mail. Those inmates included Joseph Duncan, a convicted serial killer in Idaho, and Lee Malvo, one of two snipers who terrorized the Washington area in 2002 and killed 10 people.

Sweeney admitted to writing postcards that falsely accused the victims of being sex offenders to harm their reputations, according to court documents. He told investigators that one of his earliest postcards, sent to the Idaho Black History Museum in Boise, was meant to bait police into investigating the woman he fought with at the post office parking lot. That letter called the museum director a “deprave Ape,” called black people racial epithets and called for the institution to be closed, documents show.

In court, Sweeney’s attorney, Elisa Massoth, said the man had a history of mental illness, including obsessive compulsive disorder and schizophrenia, the Idaho Statesman reported. Massoth argued that Sweeney pleaded guilty to the charges and cooperated with authorities because he did not want to put the victims through a trial, the newspaper reported.

“My intent in sending the postcards was only to embarrass and humiliate the victim, never to frighten,” Sweeney told the judge, according to the Statesman.

Throughout their investigation, authorities quickly discovered that Sweeney was well-practiced at orchestrated vile attacks against those who upset him.

“Venomously yours,” Sweeney once signed a letter to the founder of the Department of Justice Witness Security Program. The letter was full of anti-Semitic insults, including a line that read: “I only regret that you, your whore wife, and your two sons … missed the train ride to Auschwitz.”

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Sweeney had also harassed a neighbor who was a doctor in the 1990s by putting staples in the man’s front door key hole so he would be locked out; signing up the man’s 9-year-old son for adult film catalogues; and sending letters to the boy’s school and to the doctor’s colleague claiming the man had AIDS.

For that attack, Sweeney was convicted of obscenity, which added to his lengthy criminal history. According to court documents, his crimes included multiple mail fraud convictions and charges of robbery, forgery, attempted murder and federal firearms violations.

Investigators also found that Sweeney had been written about in major newspapers. Two stories in the New York Times, from 1981 and 1994, claim that the man had helped a convicted Soviet Union spy escape to South Africa from a New Jersey prison. The reports also document Sweeney’s attempt at a business endeavor, which included selling advice to first-time prisoners on how to survive on the inside.

In the 1994 interview, Sweeney told the Times: “I remember it was Nietzsche who wrote, ‘The crime is not in the act but in the stupidity of being caught.’ ”

Twenty-five years later, investigators found the same quote listed on Sweeney’s Facebook profile.

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