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Man threatened to kill Biden, Jan. 6 cmte head, mailed white powder, say prosecutors

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Inflation Reduction Act in the State Dining Room at the White House on Thursday, July 28, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)
October 20, 2022

A Pennsylvania man was charged with threatening to kill President Joe Biden and the U.S. representative at the head of the committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, prosecutors said.

Robert Maverick Vargo, a 25-year-old from Berwick, Pennsylvania, is alleged to have mailed a threatening letter and a white powder to the office of Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), who is also the chairman of the Jan. 6 committee.

“I’m going to kill you!” the letter said in part, according to prosecutors. “I will make you feel the rest of our pain & suffering. … I am going to kill you & those you love. … You & Joe Biden soon will face death for the wrongs you’ve done.”

Prosecutors stated that Vargo’s letter alluded to “anthrax,” a white powder used as a biological weapon, and “specifically referenced” Thompson’s role leading the Jan. 6 committee. 

U.S. Capitol Police determined the white powder mailed by Vargo posed no public safety hazard, prosecutors said.

The letter arrived on Oct. 11, two days before the Jan. 6 committee held possibly their final hearing detailing former President Donald Trump’s role in the Capitol riot.

Vargo also made local headlines over the summer when he escaped a Pennsylvania prison and spent several days on the run, making a more-than-600-mile trek to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, according to local outlet WNEP. He had been serving time on a burglary charge. 

Prosecutors said the letter to Thompson was mailed from the Luzerne County Correctional Facility, which Vargo had earlier escaped.

The letter also threatened to kill U.S. District Court Judge Robert D. Mariani, according to prosecutors. Mariani was appointed by former President Barack Obama to the Middle District of Pennsylvania, which covers Vargo’s town of Berwick.

Vargo was indicted by a federal grand jury, and if he’s found guilty, faces up to 25 years in prison on charges of threatening the President of the United States, interstate communications with a threat, and influencing a federal official by threat, prosecutors said.