Letter Sent To Federal Judge In Washington State Contained Ricin, FBI Says; Matthew Ryan Buquet Arrested
Buquet is 37. The Associated Press, via Fox News, identified the intended recipient as U.S. District Judge Fred Van Sickle of the Eastern District of Washington. Van Sickle presides over cases in Spokane. He was appointed to the bench by President George H.W. Bush in 1991 and now serves as a senior judge. Prior to his appointment to the federal bench, Van Sickle was a state-court judge in Washington.
It was not immediately clear whether the FBI suspects a broader crime. Nor was it clear whether Van Sickle ever presided over a case in which Buquet had a role. Washington state is known to be the site of an investigation into the activities of purported “sovereign citizens.” The word “sovereign” does not appear in a statement by the FBI yesterday on the Buquet arrest, but purported “sovereigns” have been linked to cases of domestic terrorism and extremism in the United States.
“Our coordinated team acted swiftly to resolve a potentially dangerous situation and continues working tirelessly around-the-clock to investigate the origin of the letter and to address any remaining, potential risks,” said Laura M. Laughlin, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Seattle Division.
“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service quickly deployed resources dedicated to find those responsible for this suspicious mailing to ensure the safety of U.S. Postal Service employees and the American public,” said Bradley J. Kleinknecht, inspector in charge of the Seattle Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
The Spokane ricin investigation follows on the heels of an April incident in Mississippi allegedly involving ricin and the mails. President Obama, Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and a state judge in Mississippi allegedly were targets of the April letters.
News of Buquet’s arrest came during the same week federal prosecutors in the Western District of Washington alleged that AdSurfDaily Ponzi scheme figure and purported “sovereign citizen” Kenneth Wayne Leaming was channeling deceased cop-killer Christopher Dorner in the courtroom.
Leaming, 57, was convicted March 1 on charges of filing false liens against public officials involved in the ASD case, harboring two federal fugitives from Arkansas wanted in a separate multimillion-dollar fraud scheme and being a felon in possession of firearms. Based on their bizarre court pleadings, the Arkansas fugitives found with Leaming appear either to be “sovereigns” or people acting under the influence of “sovereigns.”
“Sovereign citizens,” known to network over the Internet, may have an irrational belief that laws do not apply to them and may draft others into “sovereign” schemes, sometimes for a fee. Though typically linked to financial crimes, some individuals linked to the purported “sovereign citizen” movement also have been involved in sex crimes. In November 2011, a Florida man listed as a registered sex offender was jailed after the allegedly filed a bogus lien against a judge.
In a separate case involving a purported “sovereign,” Bruce Chalmers Hicks was jailed in Florida last week. The Tampa Bay Times reported that Hicks served seven years in prison after his 2004 conviction for molesting a child under the age of 12.
MailOnline reported yesterday that Buquet “was listed as a sex offender following an ‘indecent liberties’ charge in 1998.”
The office of U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan of the Western District of Washington prosecuted Leaming, the ASD figure and purported “sovereign.” Leaming now claims a federal judge owes him 208,000 ounces of fine silver. Durkan’s office recently has prosecuted other purported “sovereigns,” including David Russell Myrland.
In 2011, Myrland was sentenced to 40 months in federal prison for threatening the mayor of the Seattle suburb of Kirkland and other public officials. He later bizarrely claimed (apparently) that the government was engaging in a grammar conspiracy against him.