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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: Barack Obama

Ricin suspect ordered to obtain psychiatric evaluation

A federal judge has ordered a Spokane man accused of sending ricin-laced letters to government officials, including President Barack Obama, receive psychiatric evaluation to determine if he is competent to stand trial.

Matthew Ryan Buquet has been in federal custody since May, when several letters that initially tested positive for the castor bean-derived toxin arrived at the Thomas S. Foley Courthouse in downtown Spokane. The missives, which included the message “We have a bomb placed we are going to kill you! Hezbollah,” arrived in envelopes bearing the return address of a downtown Spokane law firm, according to court documents since sealed.

A female employee of the firm reported she began receiving notes and gifts, including a can of Coca-Cola, on her desk. Buquet, a member of the janitorial crew that cleaned the office space leased by the law firm, had been dismissed from previous jobs for similar behavior. The FBI detained Buquet at his apartment shortly after the letters were discovered and interrogated him at a hotel, according to court paperwork. An FBI agent with the investigation said at the time Buquet appeared “gravely disabled,” exhibited “bizarre behaviors” and was “delusional,” according to court records.

U.S. District Judge Ancer Haggerty authorized the mental evaluation. Haggerty, an Oregon judge, was assigned to the case after a Spokane judge recused himself because one of the poisoned letters was addressed to a colleague.

Haggerty wrote in his ordered he was “satisfied that there is reasonable cause to believe the defendant may not be competent to understand the charges against him and to assist in his defense.”

A hearing to argue the findings of the competency hearing is set for May, with a potential jury trial in the case pushed to October. Buquet has been indicted on a criminal charge of possessing a deadly biological agent and two counts of mailing threatening communications. If convicted of the charges, Buquet could spend 20 years to the rest of his life in federal prison.

Supremacist in terror plot sentenced

A man with ties to white supremacists who bragged about wanting to kill President Barack Obama received a 13-year sentence Thursday for a weapons charge, the latest conviction in what his lawyer called “a running battle with the government.”

 Wayde L. Kurt, 54, also told associates he was saving money for a “final solution” that would include a bombing to dwarf the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and put him in jeopardy of the death penalty, according to court testimony.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Nov. 17: Feds: Indicted racist had terrorism plans

Tom Rice nominated for federal judgeship

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Rice was nominated today by President Barack Obama for a federal judgeship in Spokane.

Rice, a 1986 magna cum laude graduate of Gonzaga School of Law, was among two judicial nominees announced by the White House Wednesday. The other is David Nuffer, a magistrate nominated for a judgeship in Utah.

“I am honored to nominate these distinguished individuals to serve on the United States District Court bench,” Obama said in prepared remarks. “They have both demonstrated an unwavering commitment to justice throughout their careers, and I am confident they will continue to serve the American people with integrity.”

Both will face Senate confirmation proceedings.

Rice will fill the judicial seat left vacant by the retirement of Judge Robert Whaley. Other lawyers from Eastern Washington considered for the nomination were Les Weatherhead of Spokane and Stanley Bastian of Wenatchee.

Rice has served as a federal prosecutor in Spokane since 1987. He previously served as a trial attorney in the Tax Division of the U.S. Justice Department.

Past coverage:

April 16: Nomination nears for federal judge

Armed ‘Obama robber’ hits Austria banks

VIENNA (AP) — Say, isn't that the president with a gun in his hand? Actually, no, but it sure looks like it.

Austrian authorities are searching for a bank robber who uses an unusual disguise: He wears a Barack Obama mask during his holdups.

Police say the man, nicknamed the “Obama Robber” by local media, is wanted for six heists since 2008. The most recent took place last week in the hamlet of Handenberg, where the Obama-resembling suspect made off with an undisclosed amount of money after threatening bank employees with a gun.

Police official Markus Mitloehner said that the man is thought to be a local since he speaks the regional dialect — with nary a trace of Obama's more professorial accent.

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