Calif. man sentenced to 51 months for anthrax hoax

A Sacramento, California man who was convicted of an anthrax hoax and sending threatening mailings was sentenced this week to 51 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release.

In addition to jail time, Marc Keyser is also liable for as-yet to be specified restitution to compensate for the cost of responding to the scares he created.

Keyser was found guilty last September by a federal jury of three counts of committing an anthrax hoax and two counts of mailing threatening communications.

Keyser was alleged to have mailed more than 100 packages that contained a CD labeled "Anthrax Shock and Awe Terror" and a small package with a biohazard label and the words "anthrax sample" in October 2008. The contents of the small package were revealed to be sugar.

Media outlets around the country received the mailings as well as the Modesto office of Rep. George Radanovich and a Starbucks and McDonald's in Sacramento.

Police, fire and hazmat crews had to be called to respond to emergency calls at many locations that received the packages, the prosecution alleged  in the 2008 case.

According to testimony at the trial, an FBI agent had warned Keyser in January 2007 to desist in mailing "anthrax" mailings following a package he sent to the Sacramento News and Review that contained anthrax-related material, including an aerosol can labeled "anthrax."

Keyser said that the mailings were meant to be "provocative," reported Keyser as saying, and to increase awareness of the anthrax threat.