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Ex-inmate charged with sending poison to California prison

An Eastern European man who authorities say sent a Christmas card to the Unabomber has been indicted on charges of mailing packages of a potentially deadly poison to a California state prison, officials said Friday.

A U.S. grand jury in San Francisco indicted Vladislav Victorvic Timoshchuk on Thursday on charges of mailing two envelopes containing ricin to Pelican Bay State Prison in July.

One was addressed to the warden and came with note warning in all capital letters that it was “laced with deadly ricin powder.” The other was sent to a purported prison gang member and called on officials to release that inmate.

FILE-- In this June 21, 1997 file photo is Theodore Kaczynski, the convicted Unabomber who is serving a life sentence in a federal prison in Colorado for carrying out a series of mail bombings that killed three people. A federal grand jury in San Francisco indicted Vladislav Victorvic Timoshchuk, on charges of of mailing two envelopes containing ricin to Pelican Bay State Prison, officials announced on Friday Feb. 21, 2020. Last year the federal Bureau of Prisons intercepted a Christmas card from Timoshchuk, now living in Belarus, to Kaczynski, in which authorities say Timoshchuk discussed his plan to mail ricin to the United States. (AP PhotoElaine Thompson, File)

Timoshchuk, 34, was once a California inmate and was deported to Belarus after his release. From 2016 into 2018, officials at Pelican Bay intercepted mail from Belarus to members of a prison gang, including to the inmate who recently was sent the ricin.

In 2017, the Anaheim Police Department investigated a threat demanding the release of that same inmate if authorities wanted to avoid the “execution” of a school student each day until he was released.

Last year the federal Bureau of Prisons intercepted a Christmas card from Belarus to Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber, in which authorities say Timoshchuk claimed responsibility for the threats to Anaheim schools and discussed his plan to mail ricin to the United States.

Kaczynski carried out a series of mail bombings that killed three people and injured 23 before his arrest in 1996, and is now serving a life sentence in Colorado.

Thursday's indictment charges Timoshchuk only with the two mailings to Pelican Bay. He is not in custody and federal prosecutors would not say if they expect him to be taken into custody in Belarus or returned to the United States for prosecution. Belarus does not have an extradition treaty with the United States.

He could face up to life in prison if he is convicted of the attempted transfer of a toxin for use as a weapon.

Timoshchuk was sent to prison in 2006 on multiple charges from San Diego and Yolo counties for robbery, vehicle theft and battery on a peace officer. He was paroled in 2011. He was never housed at Pelican Bay.