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Woodland Hills man is held in sending of threats by mail

Times Staff Writer

A Woodland Hills man was arrested Saturday by the federal Joint Terrorism Task Force on suspicion of mailing more than a dozen threatening letters to politicians, celebrities and journalists, the FBI said Sunday. The letters contained what turned out to be harmless white powder.

Chad Conrad Castagana, 39, was being held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles for allegedly conveying false information and sending threats by U.S. mail.

The letters, which had fake return addresses, were received by Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), who is in line to become speaker of the House; Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.); comedians Jon Stewart and David Letterman; and MSNBC host Keith Olbermann.

Some of the letters contained rants, such as “Death to Demagogues” and references to Alan Berg, a Jewish talk-show host killed in 1984 by white supremacists in Denver. The white powder in the envelopes was tested and not found to be hazardous, the FBI said in a statement.

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The FBI said agents observed Castagana dropping envelopes into a mailbox in Woodland Hills on Thursday. Authorities found an envelope in the mailbox containing white powder, the FBI statement said.

Castagana, who could not be reached for comment, is scheduled to appear in court today, and prosecutors are expected to file a criminal complaint.

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charles.ornstein@latimes.com


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