Monday, October 15, 2001

Police charge man over powder prank




By By Cindy Kranz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LINWOOD — A 51-year-old Pierce Township man was charged with inducing panic Saturday after placing an envelope of white powder on his boss's desk as a prank.

        It was the first such arrest in Hamilton County since the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon, Prosecutor Mike Allen said.

        John R. Silz said he placed the envelope on boss Tim Wise's desk at Glass Wise Inc. in Linwood as a practical joke, Cincinnati police Officer Allison Schneider said. Firefighters determined the substance was glass ground into a fine powder.

        Mr. Wise, owner of the glass replacement firm at 5174 Wooster Road, opened the envelope about 9 a.m. Saturday and called the Cincinnati Fire Division. The building was evacuated.

        Since the first confirmed anthrax case in Florida, Tri state emergency workers have been increasingly summoned to homes and businesses to check envelopes full of suspicious substances. On Sunday, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said that he considered the anthrax cases discovered in New York, Nevada and Florida to be instances of bioterrorism.

        “With the public in a heightened state of alert, these types of incidents are going to be taken very seri ously, whether it's a dangerous substance or baby powder,” Mr. Allen said. “They're going to be ... prosecuted vigorously.”

        Inducing panic is a felony punishable by up to 1 1/4 years in prison. Mr. Silz, of the 1000 block of Cedar Ridge Drive, was in the Hamilton County Justice Center on Sunday awaiting arraignment this morning.

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