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Letter to Obama Tested for Ricin Contamination, Officials Say

A letter to President Barack Obama similar to a Ricin-laced communication sent to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was intercepted and turned over to the FBI.

Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Washington field office responded to the White House mail facility today after the suspicious letter was discovered, Lindsay Godwin, an FBI spokeswoman said.

Edwin Donovan, a Secret Service spokesman, said that the letter is similar to one sent to Bloomberg and a group promoting gun control that the mayor co-chairs. The letter to Bloomberg tested positive for the deadly chemical ricin, according to the New York City Police Department.

The writer of a letter opened in New York on May 24 threatened the mayor and made references to “the debate on gun laws,” NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said yesterday in a statement.

The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.

A Secret Service official, who asked for anonymity to discuss details, said the agency was aware of the letter sent to Bloomberg and Mayors Against Illegal Guns in Washington and was on heightened alert. The letter addressed to Obama was never opened and was given to the FBI for testing.

The tainted letters were the latest in a series of such mailings to public officials. A Mississippi man was arrested in April on charges of mailing ricin-laced letters to Obama and a U.S. senator. This month, a man was charged with threatening a federal judge in Spokane, Washington, in a letter that contained ricin, the FBI said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Julianna Goldman in Washington at jgoldman6@bloomberg.net; Mike Dorning in Washington at mdorning@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net

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