CIRCLEVILLE — An Ohio man pled guilty in U.S. Federal Court this week to writing threatening letters to various agencies/businesses around the state from 2017 to 2018, including one to The Circleville Herald.
According the U.S. Department of Justice Southern District of Ohio, Sean Heisa, 36, pled guilty to making false information or hoaxes and mailing threatening communications containing anthrax or fentanyl.
The court documents state that from July 2017 to July 2018, Heisa mailed letters while incarcerated to various officials throughout the State of Ohio.
On July 5, 2018, a Circleville Herald employee opened a nondescript business envelope addressed to “Circleville Herald.” The letter threatened to physically harm the staff and said that the envelope contained the narcotic fentanyl. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid often found in powder form that can penetrate the skin and cause death in high doses. The staff member stopped reading and dropped the letter when they noticed an unknown substance in the envelope.
According to police, the letter also contained apparent threats toward other Pickaway County residents. Police notified those individuals; however, The Herald will not release their names due to their privacy. The U.S. Attorney’s Office did, however, identify The Ohio State University, Columbus Dispatch, and a former Ohio prison director, as victims who also received letters.
In addition, officials from Coshocton Municipal Courthouse, Franklin County Common Please Court and then Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine received letters that threatened exposure to anthrax and the use of explosive devices.
The following day (July 6, 2018), Herald staff returned to work and Circleville Police contacted the Pickaway County Emergency Management Agency for HAZMAT assistance, which arrived that day to take the substance to a lab for testing.
Another letter mailed to a Fairfield County Common Pleas Court Judge who had presided over several hearings involving Heisa (including robbery charges for which Heisa is now serving a combined 37-year sentence) stated: “This is enough fentanyl to kill you and multiple coworkers [sic]. You deserve a more painful death but this will do.”
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, 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 allegedly chose to get high on the substance instead.
Heisa was charged by criminal complaint in December 2018 and arrested in January 2019.
Creating false information/hoaxes and mailing threatening communications are each federal crimes punishable by up to five years in prison.