An Ohio senior citizen was arrested on Friday for allegedly sending more than 36 letters filled with feces to state leaders, including congressman Jim Jordan.
Richard John Steinle, 77, a former court mediator in Portage County, allegedly sent the letters to all 25 Republican members of the state Senate, as well as other GOP officials like Mr Jordan, between August 2021 and 29 July, according to Cleveland.com.
Mr Steinle has been charged in federal court with sending “injurious articles” via mail, a misdemeanor that can carry a fine of $100,000 and up to one year in prison.
The Independent contacted Mr Steinle’s public defender for comment.
Authorities say the letters often accused their recipients of bing a “pig” or a “racist.” Mr Jordan’s in particular contained a $1 bill and a greeting card.
The Independent contacted the congressman for comment.
Authorities were able to find Mr Steinle, who was released this week on a $20,000 bond, after a former colleague tipped them off.
Mr Steinle allegedly used a variety of return addresses when sending out his noxious letters, including those matching the 9th Ohio District Court of Appeals, the FBI’s Akron office, and the home of an appeals court staff member.
The appeals court staffer told officials that Mr Steinle had a grudge against them for not helping him in a lawsuit, and that the former mediator might be involved in sending the letters. The former colleague also said Mr Steinle thought the government was watching him.
Postal inspectors then surveilled the 77-year-old last month as he wore a glove and dropped off his letter to Representative Jordan. Ohio officials reacted with a mix of amusement and disgust towards the letters.
In July, Ohio Senate spokesman John Fortney told News 5 the whole situation was “ridiculous.”
“I’m really angry about it,” Fortney said to the outlet. “These are a bunch of little scared, little cowards that wouldn’t say s*** or a thing to you face-to-face, right? They would rather send it in the mail.”
Republican senator Jay Hottinger told The Columbus Dispatch the letters were “gross and stupid, immaturity at its highest level,” before calling the incident “just another crappy day.”
Mr Steinle, whose next court appearance is 25 August, was fired from his position in 2017 after more than 17 years on the job. He was fired after he wrote a letter to the editor in a local paper in 2016 without his superiors’ approval.
The mediator disputed the firing, saying the letter was protected speech. He and his former employer later reached a confidential settlement.