Maximum security prisoner pleads not guilty to anthrax hoax letters

Authorities allege that a career criminal locked up in a maximum security prison in New York sent hoax anthrax letters in 2007 to five federal courthouses in New York, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
Roberto Cepeda pleaded not guilty on Thursday to mailing letters from Auburn prison near Syracuse, N.Y., that contained scribbled warnings such as "This is ANTHRAX for you," and "Die from ANTHRAX," along with harmless substances, the Associated Press reports.
A letter opened at the U.S. District Court clerk's office in Charlottesville, Va., on April 20, 2007, made a reference to Virginia Tech, where a student had recently murdered 33 people. Two other letters arrived in Virginia at courthouses in Alexandria and Harrisonburg the same day. Similar letters were also received in Syracuse on April 6 and Washington on April 9.
If Cepeda is convinced, he could be sentenced to up to five years in federal prison and fined up to $250,000. Unlike incoming mail at New York prisons, outgoing mail does not undergo an inspection.
Cepeda has been disciplined by prison authorities for correspondence, harassment and impersonation violations. In August, he was ordered to be confined to his cell for 23 hours a day for three years.

Cepeda drew a sentence of three-to-six years in prison in 2006 for ID theft, forgery and burglary in New York City. He has spend much of the past 27 years in and out of state prison, which began with a 1984 conviction for attempted robbery, the AP reports.
Not long after the letters were mailed, Cepeda was moved to another prison at Cape Vincent on the eastern shore of Lake Ontario. In December of that year, he was charged and convincted of attempting to place a false bomb at the prison, which added 18 months to three years to his sentence.