Siloam Springs Man Sentenced in White Powder Scares
Philip G. Hanson, the Siloam Springs man convicted of sending envelopes containing white powder to businesses and schools in Northwest Arkansas, was sentenced Wednesday (Feb. 6) to 15 years in the federal prison system.
Calling the white-powder mailings a “terroristic act,” U. S. District Judge Jimm Larry Hendren also ordered Hanson to pay his former employer, DaySpring Cards of Siloam Springs, a restitution amount of $65,841. Hanson also received three years of supervised release at the end of his sentence.
“Such terroristic actions will not be tolerated,” the judge said.
On Sept. 13, a federal jury convicted the 58-year-old man of 56 felony counts of sending threatening letters and white powder through the mail in the fall of 2011 to several locations in Northwest Arkansas, according to U.S. Attorney Conner Eldridge.
Twenty-six of the letters were threatening communications, while 30 included white power, Eldridge said.
“I believe the judge used the word heinous, and that’s certainly how we approached this case,” Eldridge said.
Eldridge previously said the threat of receiving the deadly substance anthrax terrorizes communities and allows prosecutors to seek felony charges against someone sending white powder. The substance in the letters turned out to nontoxic, officials said.
On Wednesday Eldridge noted that 400 children ages 3 to 6 were evacuated from Northside Elementary in Siloam Springs because of mail that Hanson sent.
Rodney Dillinger, Northside Elementary dean of students, said he remembers the evacuation in October 2011 after one of the kindergarten teachers received a letter.
“I don’t think anyone anticipates or expects those things to happen, but your training kicks in when you know you have been prepared for certain events,” Dillinger said.
On Wednesday, Eldridge sought to have Hanson sentenced to 30 years in federal prison, which would have equated to five years for each of six evacuations the mailings prompted, he said.
“It occurred because the defendant decided to to send a threatening letter containing powder to one of the teachers. That’s unacceptable, and that’s what the judge expressed,” Eldridge said.
Hanson also sent letters to the Siloam Springs Police Department, Springdale High, Fayetteville High, Bentonville High, and several other places, Eldridge said.
Hanson, who served as his own attorney in court proceedings, argued Wednesday he suffers from depression and fears for his safety in federal prisons.
“I spend days on my bunk just in a funk,” Hanson said in court.
Victims of his letters were in the courtroom but none accepted the judge’s offer to speak.
Toward the end of the hearing, Hanson, wearing gray horizontal-striped detention center garb, said he felt sorry “for the pain” he caused.
“I do feel for these people,” he said. “I have care and concern for the people that did receive the letters.”
The judge said those statements represented the only time Hanson has attempted to express regret, but even then the remarks were not apologetic.
“I didn’t hear an apology,” Hendren said. “I heard a, ‘Well, I’m kind of sorry about it.’”
The judge said Hanson is one of the most narcissistic people he has encountered in 20 years on the bench.