EPHRATAH - A Lassellsville woman says she mailed threatening letters and white powder to a U.S. senator and the Massachusetts attorney general because she was being ignored by the state's justice system.
Roberta Cicora, 57, was arrested at her home Sept. 16 after a federal grand jury indictment was unsealed. She is charged with four counts of sending a threatening communication via U.S. Mail and four counts of aiding and abetting.
She also faces drug charges in New York after state police said they found marijuana plants while executing the search warrant with federal officials.
The U.S. attorney's office said she sent letters and white powder to the Boston offices of U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and state Attorney General Martha Coakley, as well as the district courthouse in Greenfield, Mass. She also is accused of sending a threatening letter to the Franklin County Jail in Greenfield.
Cicora said in a phone interview she sent the letters and powder because she was unhappy with how the state handled cases and warrants against her boyfriend, Robert Deschaine, who had been in a relationship with a Massachusetts woman who later accused him of domestic abuse.
She told authorities they could have cleared up concerns by talking to her boyfriend's sister and sister-in-law, but her suggestions - which she ultimately took to Brown and Coakley's offices - fell on deaf ears, she said.
"So I wrote some letters to get some attention," Cicora said. "I needed these people to stand up and listen."
The letters were hand-written on "ordinary paper lying around the house" she said. She didn't leave fingerprints, used fictitious return names and addresses and sealed the envelopes with pickle juice and household cleaners to avoid being traced. She said the threats were misunderstood. She said one letter included the words "see you next Tuesday," longhand for a vulgar acronym. Another referred to a stink bomb, she said.
The white powder in three of the envelopes was a non-dairy creamer, she said. She said she'd been baking that day and some of the powder may have spilled into the envelopes, but she said she was aware of the disturbance it could cause.
When the letter and power was opened in District Court on May 3, the area was evacuated and superior, probate and family courts were forced to close for the day, according to news reports.
Spokeswoman Christinia Dilorio-Sterling said the U.S. attorney's office couldn't provide details about the investigation beyond what's in the public record.
If convicted of sending the letters, Cicora faces up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines for each charge.
She claims to not have an attorney, but Dilorio-Sterling said the court appointed Great Barrington, Mass., attorney Lori Levinson as a public defender. Levinson was in court today and did not return a phone message left Thursday.
A federal judge released Cicora without bail. A pre-trial conference is scheduled for Nov. 1 in Springfield.
As a condition of her release, she cannot leave New York except for Massachusetts court appearances, and she is subject to psychological evaluations and drug testing. She also cannot use narcotics or other controlled substances, according to the release. Dilorio-Sterling said she didn't know whether Cicora's drug charges will complicate the case.
Cicora was charged by state police Wednesday with unlawful possession of marijuana, a violation, and unlawfully growing marijuana and criminal possession of marijuana for allegedly having more than 2 ounces, both misdemeanors.
She was released on an appearance ticket and will appear in Town Court at 6 p.m. Thursday, state police said.
Bill Pitcher is the city editor and can be reached at email@example.com.