By Rebecca Henely
A former teacher living in Ridgewood was arrested Oct. 29 for allegedly sending mail with white powder inside to former co-workers, her neighbors and acquaintances with false addresses of people she had accused of being in the drug trade, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
An arrest warrant dated Oct. 28 said Anna Catalanotto of Madison Street in Ridgewood allegedly sent 22 envelopes to current or former employees of PS 91 at 68-10 Central Ave. in Glendale, their family members or Catalanotto’s neighbors and acquaintances. While powder from one of the envelopes was tested and found not to be hazardous, the warrant said the mailings could be considered a threat.
“[P]owder is frequently used by individuals in concert with mailed communications to cause the recipient to believe that he or she has been exposed to a harmful or dangerous substance,” the warrant said.
The arrest arose out of an investigation begun June 21, when Catalanotto called the FBI and accused two Ridgewood men of being FBI agents who were buying drugs from a man whom the Ridgewood men were investigating, the warrant said. She alleged this third man was also working with two other men who were supposedly in the drug trade, according to the FBI.
In a follow-up interview with the FBI, Catalanotto also said the Ridgewood men, along with a woman from Howard Beach, were selling illegal narcotics in the area and that the men were grave robbers and had stolen her dead father’s body, the warrant said.
On Sept. 17, Catalanotto’s niece called the Suffolk County Police Department, saying she had received a letter containing white powder addressed to her husband marked from one of the men whom Catalanotto implicated, according to the warrant.
A month later, the New York Police Department’s Crimestoppers website received a tip saying Catalanotto was sending letters with powder to former co-workers at PS 91, where she retired with an unsatisfactory rating, and letters with powder to people in Catalanotto’s hometown in Italy, the warrant said.
In an interview Oct. 22 with the FBI, one of the men Catalanotto implicated as being in the drug trade said he had worked with her at PS 86 on Parsons Boulevard in Jamaica and had received a letter with powder for which he believed she was responsible, the warrant said.
FBI agents later followed Catalanotto Oct. 25 and allegedly found her dropping off 13 letters at the post office, some of which had return addresses similar to the people Catalanotto had implicated and/or sent letters to, the warrant said.ï»¿
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4564.