Inmate sentenced to 9 years in prison for mailing threats to state & local government officials, judges, newspapers
COLUMBUS, Ohio – An Ohio inmate was sentenced in federal court to 108 months in prison for writing at least 15 threatening letters containing powder. In some of the letters, he claimed the powder was anthrax or fentanyl or threatened the use of explosive devices.
Sean Heisa, 39, mailed threatening letters while incarcerated to various officials throughout the state of Ohio from July 2017 to July 2018.
Heisa mailed a letter to the city manager of Painesville in August 2017 and claimed powder contained within the envelope was anthrax. In the letter, Heisa described several things that were going to happen: “#1 – You are going to have trouble breathing; #2- You are going to die; #3 – You are going to become a martyr for a cause and an organization far bigger than yourself.”
Likewise, Heisa mailed a second letter that month to a magistrate judge in Whitehall, again claiming the powder contained within the letter was anthrax.
Heisa also threatened via letter officials within the Coshocton Municipal Courthouse, Franklin County Common Pleas Court and then-Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine through threatened exposure to anthrax and the use of explosive devices.
Other letters threatened to injure recipients – including the former Ohio prisons director, the Columbus Dispatch, the Circleville Herald and The Ohio State University – by exposure to purported fentanyl.
For example, one letter to a Fairfield County Common Pleas Court judge who had presided over several hearings involving Heisa (involving robbery charges for which Heisa is now serving a combined 37-year sentence) stated: “This is enough Fentanyl to kill you and multiple coworker [sic]. You deserve a more painful death but this will do”.
Heisa had access to what he believed to be fentanyl in prison and knew that if he could send enough fentanyl that it could kill someone, which is why he referenced it in many of his letters. Heisa chose to ingest the substance instead of mailing it.
Heisa was charged federally in December 2018 and pleaded guilty in October 2019 to making false information or hoaxes and mailing threatening communications.
Kenneth L. Parker, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, and J. William Rivers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division announced the sentence imposed by Chief U.S. District Court Judge Algenon L. Marbley. Assistant United States Attorney Jessica W. Knight is representing the United States in this case.
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Department of Justice
Office of the U.S. Attorney
Southern District of Ohio