A Houston-area woman who pleaded guilty in July to mailing homemade package bombs to former President Barack Obama and other high-level public officials has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.
Julia Ann Poff, 47, quoted Bible verses in court Monday and denied involvement with the packages sent to Obama, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Carolyn Colvin, the acting director of the Social Security agency in October 2016.
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Before sentencing, District Judge Vanessa Gilmore confronted Poff and told her to explain why she mailed the booby-trapped devices.
“Talk to me, don’t be reading me Bible verses,” Gilmore said. “I need to understand why you’re saying you’ve done good for so many people and how that squares with the fact that you made bombs and sent them ... with the intent to kill.”
Initially, Poff denied her role in the crimes, the Houston Chronicle reported.
“I don’t know what we’re doing here. We had nothing to do with this. We did not do this,” Poff told the judge through tears.
Moments later, she apologized.
“All I can say is I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m sorry to the people I’ve hurt.”
Prosecutors said Poff mailed the explosive package to Obama in October 2016, but it was intercepted at a White House handling facility at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington.
After defusing the improvised explosive device, investigators found a stray cat hair taped under the package’s address label which later proved consistent with hairs taken from Poff’s cat.
Inside the box was more damning evidence.
Authorities found a cellphone that previously belonged to Poff’s daughter and a micro-USB cable box with a barcode that was eventually traced back to purchases Poff made with her debit card.
The explosive device mailed to Abbott in September 2016 malfunctioned and did not explode.
In court documents, prosecutors said Poff was angry at state government about not receiving child support from her ex-husband.
Then another explosive device was mailed to the Social Security Administration a month later. On that occasion, Poff was denied Social Security disability benefits for a third time, court records show.
Poff's sentence Monday was the highest possible for the transportation of explosives with intent to kill, the Houston Chronicle reported. Federal authorities said she would “remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.”
She was also ordered to pay $9,700 in restitution.
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