A Connecticut man who pleaded guilty last year to a series of hoaxes, including sending a letter with white powder threatening to kill President Donald Trump, was sentenced Wednesday to nine years in prison.
The man, Gary Joseph Gravelle, 53, of New Haven, pleaded guilty to seven charges related to threats he made in September 2018, according to John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut.
In early September 2018, Gravelle sent a threatening letter addressed to Trump accompanied by a white powdery substance that Gravelle claimed was anthrax, according to court records. Other recipients of Gravelle’s threatening messages included federal probation officers, mental health providers and a credit union. He also threatened to blow up planes and property at the Burlington International Airport in Vermont.
Judge Kari Dooley of U.S. District Court in Bridgeport, Connecticut, sentenced Gravelle to more than seven years in prison for the threats he made in 2018 and an additional two years for violating conditions of his release.
Gravelle has been incarcerated since his arrest Sept. 8, 2018, and had previously been jailed for sending threatening messages in 2010, according to Durham’s office.
His guilt or innocence has never been much disputed, according to officials and Gravelle’s lawyer. What has not been determined is where Gravelle, who has a history of mental illness, will serve his sentence.
Gravelle is in the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Rhode Island, where he is receiving medication but not seeing a therapist regularly, according to his lawyer, Joseph Patten Brown. Whether Gravelle serves his sentence there, or at a hospital, will be determined by the federal Bureau of Prisons, Brown said.
Brown would prefer the latter. “People like Gary are now just housed in jails instead of places where they can at least get some treatment,” he said in an interview.
In a sentencing memo to the court, Brown wrote that his client was “a sick man” who had “no intent to follow through” on his threats “or seeming ability to do so.” Gravelle targeted people “with no seeming pattern” with regard to ideology, race or creed, Brown wrote. His client “has no agenda other than a misguided cry for help.”
Prosecutors, in their sentencing memo, acknowledged Gravelle’s history of mental illness but said his threats had deeply affected the victims.
Gravelle’s threats “disrupted the daily lives of many and no doubt seriously frightened their recipients,” prosecutors wrote. The victims, prosecutors wrote, “had no role in creating any of the defendant’s problems but are forced to bear the brunt of them nonetheless.”