WEST PALM BEACH -- The man who set off an anthrax scare when he sent an envelope containing what was later determined to be white powder to the Palm Beach County state attorney’s office in January, has been sentenced to more than six years in prison.
Justin B. Lane, 28, was a Florida prison inmate serving a 15-year sentence for burglary, grand theft and robbery charges when authorities said he sent a letter addressed to former Palm Beach County State Attorney Michael McAuliffe in an envelope with the suspicious powder.
The letter, which arrived at the office Jan. 3, contained, in part, the following: “I hope you inhale this … and your heart explodes. … What do you think the white powder is?”
The letter writer went on to ask the reader to wonder whether the substance was poisonous anthrax.
An employee opened the letter in an area of the state attorney’s office’s second floor used to prepare audio and video evidence for trials. Authorities evacuated the building and closed off several blocks of downtown West Palm Beach as hazardous materials teams worked for hours to contain the potentially dangerous incident
The powder was later found by an FBI lab to be harmless.
It wasn’t until June, that a federal grand jury indicted Lane on one federal felony count each of mailing threatening letters and false information and hoaxes.
At that time, Lane was already six years into his sentence for a 2005 Palm Beach County robbery. Lane, who had previously served three years in prison for 2002 aggravated battery and burglary charges, was also sentenced in 2006 to six years in prison for two burglary charges out of St. Lucie County.
The Florida Department of Corrections has listed Lane’s release date on the state charges as sometime in 2020. He will then begin serving his federal sentence, according to paperwork filed at his federal sentencing hearing last week. Lane pleaded guilty in October to the charges stemming from the anthrax scare.
At Lane’s federal sentencing, federal Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley also tacked on three years of probation after Lane’s scheduled release.