Suzanne E. Muscara, 37, allegedly mailed a letter that contained a white powder that the sender claimed was anthrax. The letter, which was addressed to Collins at her Bangor home, was intercepted at the U.S. Postal Service’s sorting facility in Hampden on Oct. 17, two days after Collins’ husband received a similar letter in the mail.
Muscara was charged in connection with that mailing but not the letter Collins’ husband, Thomas Daffron, received, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. No one has been charged with that mailing.
Daffron received a letter Oct. 15 that claimed to have been coated in “ricin residue,” according to the affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Bangor. After that incident, the postal service began examining mail addressed to Daffron and Collins’ home for suspicious letters.
Muscara was arrested Friday, according to information posted on the court system’s website.
U.S. Magistrate Judge John Nivison on Monday ordered Muscara temporarily held without bail pending a preliminary hearing and detention hearing at 3 p.m. April 16 when the judge will determine two things — if there is probable cause for the charge and if there are conditions under which she can be released on bail.
She was not asked to enter a plea Monday because she has not yet been indicted by a federal grand jury.
Muscara, who is a member of the Green Party, was held over the weekend at the Penobscot County Jail. She appeared in court Monday in blue jail garb, her hair cropped close to her head. She dabbed at her eyes with a tissue while waiting for the brief proceeding to begin.
Daffron received the first letter — which was addressed to him — on Oct. 15 while at the couple’s West Broadway home alone. Collins was in Washington, D.C., but returned later that day. The couple was quarantined for a time at the house with their Labrador retriever, Pepper, the Associated Press reported at the time.
“The typed and unsigned letter said, ‘Good Luck to you and Susan in the next life’ and stated ‘Your wife has betrayed the people of Maine along with the American people and this will be her downfall,’” the affidavit read.
The second letter contained an Aetna Medicare Solutions colored flyer, the affidavit said. On one side in blue handwriting was written, “AnthRAX!!! HA HA HA!!!”’
“A stick-figure face has been drawn with the letter ‘X’ for eyes, the tongue sticking out, and with ‘You’ and an arrow pointing at the stick figure face,” the affidavit said.
The FBI was able to obtain a partial fingerprint from that envelope after determining that powder was starch. The fingerprint was matched to Muscara, the affidavit said. Her fingerprints were collected when she was arrested in 2013 in Pennsylvania. The circumstances surrounding that arrest were not included in court documents.
Muscara allegedly told investigators that she never expected the letter would be delivered or taken seriously.
The first letter arrived at Collins’ home 10 days after the Republican senator announced her support for the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The affidavit did not say if either letter referenced Kavanaugh, but the day after the letter arrived, Daffron told a Bangor television station that it specifically mentioned the senator’s vote to confirm Kavanaugh.
By mid-October, Collins had been the target of harsh and sometimes vicious attacks both before and after she cast a decisive vote for Kavanaugh, who overcame three allegations of sexual assault in the weeks leading up to his confirmation. Kavanaugh vehemently denied the allegations.
Some also protested outside of Collins’ home. The senator appeared to go about her life in Bangor without increased security. That did not appear to change after her husband received the letter.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew McCormick, who is prosecuting the case, and Federal Defender James Nixon declined to comment after the hearing. It is the practice of both offices not to comment on pending cases.
If convicted, Muscara faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
Collins’ spokeswoman, Annie Clark, issued a statement Monday praising the efforts of law enforcement in making the arrest.
“Senator Collins and Mr. Daffron greatly appreciate the extraordinary efforts made by state and federal law enforcement agencies which culminated in an arrest in this case,” Clark said.