Mass. man pleads guilty to ricin possession

A man from Agawam, Massachusetts, recently pleaded guilty to possessing the deadly toxin ricin and to threatening a federal prosecutor.

Michael Crooker entered his plea in Boston to one count of possessing a toxin without the proper registration and one count of mailing a letter containing a threat to injure an officer or employee of the United States, according to

Crooker’s home was raided in 2004 after federal agents intercepted what appeared to be a firearm silencer that Crooker had tried to send in through the mail.

Agents conducted a search of his apartment and found an apparent weapons lab with chemicals capable of making powerful explosives. They also found castor seeds, the precursor to ricin, and abrus seeds, from which the poison abrin is derived, reports. Crooker had the necessary equipment to make both toxins.

Upon finding the material, 50 residents were evacuated from Crooker’s apartment complex and police closed off all public access within 1,000 feet of Crooker’s apartment.

In response to his arrest and the raid on his home, Crooker sent a letter to the U.S. attorney that was prosecuting his case.

“As Martyr McVeigh’s T-shirt says: The Tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time with blood of patriots and tyrants,” the letter said, according to U.S. Attorney Charles M. Ortiz.

In August 2004, Crooker’s father dug up a buried vial of powdered ricin on his property, reports. Crooker later admitted that the ricin was his and said it had been there for three to four years. There was enough poison in the vial to kill hundreds of people.

Crooker will be sentenced on June 20. He faces up to 15 years in prison and $500,000 in fines. As part of the plea agreement, Ortiz told, all parties will recommend the maximum sentence.