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He sent bomb threats to City Hall, police, FBI. Now he’s going to prison.

Michael Dexter Brodie
Michael Dexter Brodie Harnett County Sheriff's Office

A Durham man will serve nearly two years in federal prison for mailing bomb threats to government offices across the state, hoping to start trouble for family members who had bothered him and potential employers who did not call back.

U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle sentenced Michael Dexter Brodie to 21 months for his “crazy letters” Thursday, ordering him to get mental health treatment. Brodie addressed his threats to Durham police, Chapel Hill Town Hall, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police, and FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C.

On five occasions, evidence showed, Brodie sent letters to Raleigh City Hall, often filled with flour, prompting four evacuations to nearby Nash Square and then to the Raleigh Convention Center. Police and bomb-sniffing dogs swept the building each time but found nothing.

“The consequence of it was profound,” Boyle told Brodie in court. “You had the whole City Hall in the Convention Center because they thought the building was going to blow up. ... You get a couple of bomb threats, and you don’t ever forget that.”

Through his attorney Mike Dowling, Brodie, 54, explained that he was angry at his niece for moving into his house with her boyfriend, and at employers who would not hire him. He wrote their names on the envelopes to try to get them in trouble.

“There wasn’t a whiff of political, ideological, religious implications at all,” Dowling said.

Brodie stood and apologized, saying he had since benefited from therapy and needed to stay home with his elderly father.

The FBI’s Hazardous Devices School at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, plays a key role in training and certifying all of the nation’s public safety bomb technicians.

“I didn’t mean to scare anyone,” he said. “I’m deeply sorry.”

Brodie pleaded guilty in January, telling Boyle he was motivated by “some people getting to me, emotionally.”

At the time, prosecutors described his sending 11 threats by mail between May and August of last year. Some were hand-written; some were typed. They contained what was later found to be a harmless white powder. Investigators later found samples of the powder, postal supplies and a typewriter ribbon in the Durham home Brodie shared with his father.

At the time, Boyle questioned why such a defendant would be freed after arrest. “Haven’t you ever heard of the Unabomber?” he asked prosecutors.

Brodie served 42 days behind bars before his Thursday sentencing, and he will get credit for that time. Three months of post-release supervision will follow his prison sentence.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara Kocher told Boyle that some of the letters were sent after Brodie’s niece had her own house, and that the defense’s timeline didn’t quite fit. She called the case difficult considering the defendant’s strong ties to family members, many of whom came to court with him Thursday.

But, she said, Brodie clearly understood his actions were wrong.

“I’m sorry for his situation,” Boyle said, “but my assumption is he did it knowingly, deliberately and continuously, and it wasn’t a one-time offense. It was carried on with cunning and deception. ... You can’t see it through the eyes of the initiator. You have to see it through the eyes of the vulnerable public.”

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Josh Shaffer covers Wake County and federal courts. He has been a reporter for The News & Observer since 2004 and previously wrote a column about unusual people and places.
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