A man from rural Pine County, Minnesota is now facing two dozen terrorism-related charges after he allegedly sent white powder-laced letters to the local courthouse.
According to the charges, 45-year-old Johnnie Long also placed fake explosive devices around town, but his behavior seemed to be headed toward something even more serious.
Long was charged Monday with 24 counts of terroristic threats and making a real or simulated weapon of mass destruction. The motive, according to the charges, was to get back at an ex-wife.
Sheriff Robin Cole said Long had already become one of the usual suspects in Pine County, allegedly faking his own kidnapping and planting fake explosives around town. Then came the six letters with white powder, addressed to two judges, the county attorney, the sheriff and two of his deputies.
The mailings led to the evacuation of the courthouse and some tense hours for workers exposed to the white powder.
Lab tests revealed the white powder was a relatively common bacteria, used as an insecticide, but it was uncommonly pure and processed. Along with a white powder was a note that said, in part, "You have failed the citizens of America...you have failed to arrest Johnnie Long...I hope you all rot in HELL right with John!!!"
The address on the envelope was listed to Long's home in Braham, Minn. That's where the FBI and a weapons of mass destruction team found the same white powder, as well as materials used to make fake explosives.
The sheriff said it was all part of a bizarre and convoluted plan to frame Long's ex-wife and her new boyfriend. What concerned the sheriff is that Long's behavior was escalating from fake bombs to white powder to something he's unwilling to yet reveal.
"In our estimation, it wasn't going to end well," Sheriff Cole said.
If convicted, Long faces a consecutive sentence of more than 200 years. He also faces possible federal charges.