Former Legislative Clerk Pleads Guilty in White Powder Hoax

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DES MOINES, Iowa — A former clerk in the Iowa Legislature pleaded guilty Monday to writing a threatening letter to a representative and including a powdery substance in 2012.

Michael Dekota McRae, 28, pleaded guilty to conveying false information concerning a biological weapon.

In a plea agreement, McRae admitted to writing a letter to Representative Ako Abdul-Samad and threatening to kill both Abdul-Samad and himself. Authorities said the letter contained racial slurs and a white powder.

“I’m going to kill you and Mike,” part of the letter read.

Authorities say Abdul-Samad opened the letter on the chamber floor during an active session on April 3, 2012. The incident forced evacuation of the Capitol. McRae, who was Abdul-Samad’s legislative clerk at the time, spoke with Channel 13 shortly after the incident occurred.

“When I opened the mail … the letter, white powder just went in a lot of different directions,” he said.

In the plea McRae also admitted to including the white powder in order to “simulate a biological agent or toxin, and he perpetrated the hoax for the purpose of creating fear in others.”

McRae will be sentenced on March 25. He faces up to five years in prison and a fine up to $250,000. McRae may also be required to reimburse the state for costs associated with the investigation of the crime.

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