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Man sent to prison for sending hoax threats to Trump

Gary Joseph Lavelle sentenced to 9 years behind bars for a series of letters and packages targeting the former US president while he was in office

Surrounded by Army cadets, President Donald Trump watches the first half of the 121st Army-Navy Football Game in Michie Stadium at the United States Military Academy, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020, in West Point, N.Y. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Surrounded by Army cadets, President Donald Trump watches the first half of the 121st Army-Navy Football Game in Michie Stadium at the United States Military Academy, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020, in West Point, N.Y. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

BRIDGEPORT, Connecticut — A man who pleaded guilty last year to sending a series of threatening letters and packages targeting former US President Donald Trump and facilities in Connecticut and Vermont has been sentenced to nine years in federal prison.

Gary Joseph Lavelle, 53, was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Connecticut for making numerous hoax threats and for violating the conditions of his supervised release that followed earlier convictions for making similar threats.

Lavelle, also known as Roland Prejean, was arrested in 2018 after suspicious packages were found at four Hartford, Connecticut, buildings including a government office and a courthouse.

Authorities said Lavelle also sent messages threatening to explode facilities in New Haven, a federal prison in Washington, a credit union in Bristol, Connecticut, and planes and property at Burlington International Airport. In early September 2018, Gravelle sent a threatening letter addressed to Trump accompanied by a white powder that Gravelle claimed was anthrax, prosecutors said.

None of the threats were real, prosecutors said, but the hoaxes caused disruptions including the evacuation of buildings.

Gravelle, whose last address was in New Haven, has been incarcerated since his 2018 arrest and had previously been in prison for sending threatening messages.

He is currently imprisoned at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Rhode Island. Defense attorney Joseph Patten Brown told The New York Times that he hopes his client, who has a history of mental illness, can serve his sentence at a hospital.

“People like Gary are now just housed in jails instead of places where they can at least get some treatment,” Brown said.

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