Claremont Man Arrested for Sending Threatening Letters to L.A. County Dept. of Child and Family Services

LOS ANGELES—Special Agents with the FBI and the United States Postal Inspection Service arrested a Claremont man this morning on federal charges of sending threatening letters containing a powdery substance to multiple offices of the Department of Children and Family Services and the Los Angeles County Children's Courthouse over a period of approximately 18 months.

Martin Calvin Yarbrough Jr., 48, was taken into custody at his residence this morning without incident after being indicted by a federal grand jury on Tuesday. The indictment charges Yarbrough with 13 counts of making threats and hoaxes.

The arrest of Yarbrough was announced by Steven Martinez, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI in Los Angeles; B. Bernard Ferguson, Postal Inspector in Los Angeles; and United States Attorney André Birotte Jr.

According to the indictment, Yarbrough sent a series of envelopes through the United States Postal Service to various offices of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and the Edmund D. Edelman Children's Court in Monterey Park. Each letter contained either a white powdery substance or a bluish granular substance that was determined to be a chemical poison. Mailed between November 2008 and May 2010, the letters were sent to DCFS offices in Covina, Lancaster, El Monte, Chatsworth, Los Angeles, Santa Fe Springs, Pomona and Monterey Park.

Steven Martinez, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI in Los Angeles, 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. The major law enforcement response generated every time such a letter is received is time-consuming and accomplished at the expense of costs taxpayers. Furthermore, the painstaking field and lab testing takes precious time away from Hazmat experts and public health officials whose time would be better spent investigating legitimate threats."

When employees at each of the facilities opened the envelopes and discovered the powder, several people in the facilities were evacuated. During each incident, hazardous materials teams from multiple agencies, as well as the FBI's Weapons of Mass Destruction Coordinator, responded to conduct field testing to determine if the powder represented a threat. The Los Angeles County Public Health Laboratory processed and evaluated the contents of the chemical material contained in the envelopes for the presence of bacterial biothreat agents and other toxins, with negative results.

B. Bernard Ferguson, Inspector in Charge - U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Los Angeles Division, stated: "Postal Inspectors are committed to enforcing those laws that defend the nation's mail system from illegal or dangerous use. We will aggressively investigate those who violate the laws meant to protect the Postal Service, its employees, and our nation's citizens."

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

Yarbrough will be arraigned before a federal magistrate in United States District Court in Los Angeles this afternoon.

If he is convicted, Yarbrough would face a maximum statutory penalty of five years in federal prison for each count.

The investigation of Yarbrough was conducted by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Los Angeles Field of Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Considerable assistance was provided by the Los Angeles County Department of Child and Family Services and Hazardous Material Teams with the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, the Los Angeles County Fire Department, and the Los Angeles County Fire Department. The Los Angeles County Public Health Laboratory also provided substantial assistance.

"We are appreciative of the hard work that went into this investigation," said Antonia Jimenez, Interim Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. "We sincerely thank the FBI and other investigating authorities for their prompt and thorough response, and now the arrest of a suspect, in this matter."

CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney Sherilyn Peace Garnett
National Security Section
(213) 894-3424


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