For Immediate Release - January 11, 2013

Inmate Pleads Guilty, Sentenced to Prison for Threatening, Sending White Powder to Hampden District Attorney’s Office and Superior Court Judge

SPRINGFIELD – A Springfield man has pleaded guilty and been sentenced to at least four years in prison for sending threatening letters containing white powder while incarcerated to the Hampden District Attorney’s Office and a Massachusetts Superior Court Judge, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today. 

Derick Maldonado, age 38, of Springfield, pleaded guilty Thursday in Hampden Superior Court to charges of Possession or Control of a Hoax Device or Material (2 counts) and Use of Threat of Dangerous Chemical or Biological Agent to Cause Evacuation or Serious Disruption of a Building. After the plea was entered, Hampden Superior Court Judge Richard J. Carey sentenced Maldonado to four to five years in state prison to run from and after his current sentences. Maldonado is currently serving time in state prison on unrelated charges. Judge Carey also ordered Maldonado to pay $5,951 in restitution for the HAZMAT response and lab work that resulted from his actions.

 “The actions of this defendant posed a serious security risk and instilled fear into public workers and others,” AG Coakley said. “He is being held accountable for threatening people’s safety and for causing a costly security response. All people deserve to feel safe in the workplace and this defendant’s actions disrupted that basic entitlement.”

“This was an extreme disruption in the functioning of our office and our ability to deliver services to victims of crime,” said Hampden District Attorney Mark Mastroianni. “A significant portion of our office was shut down on a busy day with staff members being very fearful of the situation. This very serious offense resulted in an appropriate sentence for the person who caused this problem. I am grateful to the Attorney General’s Office for the thorough investigation and prosecution of the matter. “

The AG’s Office began an investigation in September 2011 after two letters containing white powder and threatening statements were sent to the Hampden District Attorney's Office in Springfield and a Massachusetts Superior Court Judge. A regional HAZMAT response was activated when the letter was opened at the Hampden DA’s Office. Officials were able to intercept the letter to the Superior Court Judge before it was opened. Further investigation of both letters revealed that the white powder was palmitic acid, a common ingredient found in soap. Investigation also revealed that Maldonado sent these letters while incarcerated in state prison.

Derick Maldonado was indicted on June 26, 2012 and arraigned in Hampden Superior Court on July 11, 2012. He pleaded guilty Thursday and was sentenced to four to five years in state prison and ordered to pay restitution.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Lee Hettinger, Chief of the Western Massachusetts Regional Office. Massachusetts State Police assigned to the AG’s Office conducted the investigation, with assistance from the U.S. Postal Service, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and the Massachusetts Department of Correction.

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