Santa Rosa Correctional Institution inmate Craig T. Pope, 29, faces life in prison after he allegedly threatened to blow up a county courthouse.
Pope pleaded guilty Friday in the U.S. District Court in Pensacola to mailing threatening communications and threatened use of a weapon of mass destruction. The guilty plea was announced by Christopher P. Canova, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
In April and May 2017, Pope was serving a state prison sentence for crimes out of Hillsborough County including burglary of a dwelling, grand theft and sexual battery. During that time he sent two threatening letters from the Santa Rosa Correctional Institution to a Hillsborough County judge who presided over his plea and/or post-conviction matters.
“You have exactly 48 hours to get me back in court or someone in your courtroom will die and not only that, there will be an outbreak of anthrax in your courthouse who knows where I will send it first . . . time is ticking,” the first letter stated.
The second letter stated “here is a gift of Anthrax and when you receive this letter you will have exactly 4 hours before the courthouse explodes. The bomb is already in place, your security is no match to my brotherhood. Today you will understand that America will never be as powerful as my ISIS Family.”
The letter contained a white powder, which triggered the Tampa Fire Rescue Hazardous Materials Response Team to respond to the courthouse and secure the evidence and potential weapon of mass destruction.
Testing eventually provided a negative response for a biothreat, but all security protocols were initiated for those who could have been contaminated.
Pope faces a maximum of five years in prison for mailing threatening communications and a maximum of life in prison for threatened use of a weapon of mass destruction. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for Aug. 20 at 3 p.m.
This case resulted from an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and the Tampa Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney David L. Goldberg is prosecuting the case.