February 24, 1998 in Nation/World

Charges Dropped In Anthrax Case

Associated Press

Two men arrested in an anthrax scare were cleared Monday of all biological weapons charges, but one still faced new allegations of violating his probation.

Federal prosecutors withdrew felony charges against William Leavitt Jr. and Larry Wayne Harris, who each had faced counts of conspiracy to possess and possessing a biological material for use as a weapon. Harris has ties to the Aryan Nations.

“It’s over. It’s done. I want to get on with my life,” Leavitt, 47, told a news conference before entering the downtown federal court building.

The dismissal order for both men was signed by Magistrate Judge Roger L. Hunt.

“I believe that the requested dismissal of the complaint is in the best interests of justice,” Assistant U.S. Attorney L.J. O’Neale stated in a paper attached to the dismissal order.

Harris’ attorney, Michael Kennedy, said, “He feels elated.”

Leavitt, who has no criminal record, was a free man. But Harris, 46, remained jailed on a new charge filed in Ohio that he violated terms of his probation for a 1995 conviction on illegally ordering bubonic plague bacteria by mail.

Harris was scheduled to return to federal court in Las Vegas on Tuesday for a hearing on the new charges.

It was unknown whether prosecutors would file reduced charges against Harris, as an FBI agent in Ohio had said would probably be done.

“I can’t read their minds, but it doesn’t sound like what a U.S. attorney would do,” Kennedy said.

Neither the defense attorney for Leavitt nor Harris said they believed the FBI overreacted given the evidence agents thought they had.

“I would be the last person to say there should be anything cast upon them,” said Kennedy. “I don’t think they overreacted. … They had to act quickly.”

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