Convict is accused in mailed threats

Posted: December 03, 2005

A North Carolina man awaiting sentencing for child pornography and credit card fraud sent bogus anthrax to a senior federal official in Philadelphia, along with a letter threatening President Bush and former President Bill Clinton, authorities said yesterday.

Michael Jacob Silvera, 31, of Greensboro, N.C., was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury in Philadelphia on charges of threatening to kill Bush and Clinton and threatening use of a weapon of mass destruction.

The letter, mailed June 3 from a prison in North Carolina, was addressed to Patricia G. Arcuri, acting director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency regional office in Philadelphia, authorities said. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy Beam Winter said arraignment was pending.

The indictment by the grand jury came three days after a federal judge in Winston-Salem, N.C., sentenced Silvera to 13 years and nine months in prison on the fraud and child pornography charges. The sentence includes a 10-year term of supervision once he is released.

In a court filing, Silvera confessed that he bought "two to five thousand" credit card numbers on the Internet for $5 apiece. Silvera said that he traded a laptop computer and an Xbox game for the child pornography with a person named "Three Elves," whom he met while discussing Satanism in an Internet chatroom.

When authorities arrested Silvera at a North Carolina hotel, they found more than 500 images of child pornography on his computer, according to Secret Service Agent Craig A. Williams.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael F. Joseph, who prosecuted the case there, described Silvera as "one of the most unusual persons I've ever run across."

Silvera wrote a letter stating "that while it was very profitable committing this fraud, he got great enjoyment out of suffering from other people," Joseph said.

A psychological evaluation of Silvera was filed in the case but is sealed. His attorney, Thomas N. Cochran, did not return a call yesterday.

Contact staff writer John Shiffman at 215-854-2658 or jshiffman@phillynews.com.

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