CBSN

More Governors Get Rigged Letters

CAROUSEL - Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin leaves the Federal Courthouse with her husband Todd Palin after court recessed for lunch Friday, April 23, 2010 in Knoxville, Tenn. Palin testified in the hacking case against David Kernell who was a University of Tennessee student majoring in economics when prosecutors say he hacked into the Yahoo! account Palin sometimes used for state business. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
AP Photo/Wade Payne
Letters rigged to ignite when opened and bound for the governor's offices in Virginia and West Virginia were intercepted Monday, officials said. Governor's offices in at least 16 other states got similar letters last week.

The letter that arrived in Richmond never threatened Gov. Mark R. Warner, said Bill Leighty, the governor's chief of staff. The letter, addressed to "executive chambers" in the state Capitol, was uncovered at a central postage-handling facility, Leighty said.

A letter to Gov. Bob Wise of West Virginia was intercepted there.

Like the letters received last week, both bore a return address from Nevada's maximum-security Ely State Prison.

"It's a sad reminder that we live in a dangerous world," Warner said during a break in the Southern Governors Association conference, being held in Richmond.

At least three of the 16 letters received last week caught fire, but no one was hurt.

Authorities said they were interviewing inmates at the prison.

The letters listed one or the other of two Ely inmates as the sender, but authorities are not sure if either prisoner was involved, Glen Whorton, assistant director for the Nevada Corrections Department, said last week.

"We're not assuming the names on the envelopes are simply the end of the matter," he said. "Investigators are not just talking to the two inmates."

Letters were sent to governors' offices last week in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming. In addition to the governors, Nevada's corrections director received a booby-trapped letter.

"The envelope was opened, and we found what appeared to be a small incendiary device," Nebraska Lt. Gov. David Heineman told CBS affiliate KMTV. "It looks like some matches put together with a very small piece of paper with an unknown substance in it."

The Montana Capitol was partly evacuated Thursday when the match burned the letter opened there, but there was no further damage.

All mail bound for Virginia's executive offices on the third floor of the state Capitol is routed through an off-site receiving facility to protect the governor and his staff. "We've done it for this very reason," Leighty said.