28-year-old Bethany Storro claims that she was trying to inspire people to believe in Jesus when she made her false police report. Storro claimed that a black woman threw acid onto her face while she was in a Starbucks drive thru. There were red flags raised at the beginning of the investigation, but the woman was welcomed with open arms from the community. She had received monetary donations from complete strangers who were reaching out to give their support. Storro had also received an offer to be a guest on Oprah. The offer has been rescinded and the funds must be paid back to the donors. This public is now cursing Storro for playing on their emotions and adding a racist spin to a publicized hoax.
Bethany Storro is not the only individual responsible for a hoax whose actions have created criminal consequences.
Anthrax and Dow Jones
Right around the time of the Bethany Storro hoax was an anthrax scare in Dow Jones & Co. Richard Kozak is the man responsible for sending an offensive letter to Dow Jones with a little bit of white powder in the bottom to seal his message and inspire fear. The mail facility was evacuated and a hazmat team was brought in to determine whether the white powder was a biological attack. Kozak is a resident of Minnesota and claims he was simply asking to be taken off their mailing list. He faces up to five years in prison for the federal charges he is currently facing. Granted, there are not too many people thrilled with Dow Jones and the current state of the stock market, but nothing is to be accomplished with biological threats, especially when you fill out the return address and can easily be located.
An Anthrax Escalation
Timothy Cloud has been sentenced to 20 years in prison after sending hoax anthrax letters to public officials. He sent a letter directly to the president of the United States with what appeared to be anthrax. This California resident has had previous run ins with the law which currently label him as a sex offender. He is going to prison based on the anthrax hoax charge, as well as for not filing with the sex offender registry when moving to California.
This 63-year-old man sent letters containing white powder to the Social Security offices in Baltimore, New York, Kansas City, and directly to President Obama in May of 2010. The New York office was the first to receive their hoax letter, and dealt with it by evacuating their offices and quarantining employees who came into contact with the unknown powder. The other institutions had the powder tested before taking such escalations.
Bomb Threat to Commit Suicide by Cop
Richard Sellars came into Arizona Charlie’s Hotel and Casino at approximately 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 4 claiming he was going to blow up the casino. He showed the woman working at the security desk a device strapped to his chest and ordered her to evacuate in five minutes or he would blow the building up. Police came right away to arrest the man but immediately backed away and blocked off the area when they saw the device he claimed was explosive. SWAT and the Las Vegas bomb squad attempted to talk the man down. Sellars repeatedly said the only way to save themselves would be to shoot him. After the man was detained, the bomb was found to be realistic looking but a fake. He appeared to be attempting suicide by cop, and will face endangerment criminal charges as well as a lawsuit by the Casino for lost business and trauma to its employees.
In just the past month, there have been several hoaxes involving the anthrax scare, misleading information on social networking cites, a staged shooting, and much more. Although hoaxes are false in nature, the fear they inspire is very real and can greatly affect those involved. In many of these cases, criminal action is taken against any individuals who participated in the hoax to show that a dangerous act need only be threatened, not always committed, to be dangerous. Not only do these individuals face criminal charges, but they become lepers in their own communities.
Long Island Press
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