Prank. Hoax. Call it what you want, but no one was laughing Monday at the outcome – five months in federal custody for Cory T. Kent.
Kent’s run-in with the law – he pleaded guilty to engaging in a criminal hoax – stems from what even he admits was a “lame, impulsive” act inspired by a YouTube video.
Back in November of last year, Kent, while working as a security guard at Daemen College, returned two prepaid envelopes sent to him from credit card lenders.
He also added a little twist of his own: white baby powder he hoped would be mistaken as anthrax.
“What I did was idiotic,” the Buffalo man told U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara. “I don’t know why I did it. I regretted it that afternoon.”
Kent, who has never been in legal trouble before, said he got the idea from a YouTube video posted by an Occupy Wall Street group eager to disrupt the nation’s financial community.
The video apparently suggests that protesters return their prepaid credit card solicitations stuffed with additional material so the banks’ mailing costs will increase.
By all accounts, the envelopes mailed by Kent never made it back to the lenders who sent them. It seems the postal carrier who picked up the mail noticed a puff of powder coming from one of the envelopes and promptly alerted authorities.
“The poor Postal Service employee who went for the mail was certainly scared out of his wits,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell T. Ippolito said Monday.
Kent acknowledges in his court papers that he wanted to scare the credit card company employees who opened his letters and that he regrets to this day what he did.
“Why would he do that?” Arcara asked at one point.
“It was stupid,” said Assistant Public Defender Kimberly B. Schechter. “He wasn’t thinking it through. It was extremely immature. He was old enough to know better.”
Schechter also reminded the judge that her client took responsibility for his actions within hours of mailing the letters and eventually admitted his guilt to federal agents.
Kent will serve his five months in a federal halfway house. His sentencing is the result of an investigation by the FBI, U.S. Postal Service Inspection Service, Amherst police and Amherst Emergency Services.