Federal inmate sentenced for mailing hoax letters to the U.S. Senate

Published 7:05 am Friday, April 22, 2022

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LAFAYETTE, La. – United States District Judge James D. Cain, Jr. sentenced Clifton Lamar Dodd, 50, a federal inmate, was sentenced to 21 months in prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release, for mailing a number of hoax letters to United States Senate post office boxes. Dodd was found guilty at his trial in July 2021 by a federal jury in Lafayette.

On May 2, 2016, personnel at the United States Senate mail facility received four suspicious mailed envelopes, each containing a white powdery substance. Each envelope bore a return address of FCI Oakdale, and each listed a different inmate as the purported sender. The United States Capitol Police’s Hazardous Response Unit responded and confirmed that the white powder was merely talcum powder. In addition to the talcum powder, each letter contained a note scrawled in all caps on a small scrap of paper that stated, “MY BOSS MADE ME DO THIS.” On the back of each note was the name of four different inmates, all of which were housed at FCI Oakdale.

U.S. Capitol Police and agents from the FBI and Bureau of Prisons began an investigation into the origin of the letters. Agents interviewed the inmates whose names were listed as senders of the letters and learned that Dodd had sent one of the inmates threatening notes and bragged about getting the inmate removed from the prison yard. FBI submitted the hoax letters to its crime lab for forensic evaluation and found one of Dodd’s fingerprints on the outside of one of the envelopes.

The FBI, Bureau of Prisons, and U.S. Capitol Police conducted the investigation and Assistant U.S. Attorney T. Forrest Phillips prosecuted the case.