Man Pleads Guilty to Sending Ricin-Laced Card to Romantic Rival

A suburban Philadelphia man has pleaded guilty to charges that he sent a romantic rival a greeting card laced with the deadly poison ricin _ and prosecutors now allege that while behind bars he tried to retaliate against those involved in the case, including witnesses, a detective and a prosecutor.

Nicholas Helman, 19, of Hatboro pleaded guilty Monday in Bucks County Court to attempted murder, attempted aggravated assault, risking a catastrophe and other crimes in the ricin card case. He was charged in March with delivering a ricin-laced greeting card to the home of his ex-girlfriend's boyfriend. Two days later, investigators found a container of leftover ricin near his home.

Authorities said a co-worker whom Helman had told about the toxic card alerted police, and officers contacted the boyfriend's home. The boyfriend's mother told police that her daughter was outside getting the mail at that moment. Authorities then went to the home to confiscate the card. Investigators said Helman told them that he had coated the card with a substance that resembled anthrax to scare his ex-girlfriend in hopes of reconciling with her.

Prosecutors allege in a new complaint that while incarcerated in Bucks County, the defendant promised a fellow inmate a savings bond his grandparents had given him if he would retaliate against those Helman blamed for his incarceration. Authorities allege that Helman left a letter outlining threats to kidnap, torture or kill the victims and, in two cases, burn down their homes.

Helman is now charged with criminal solicitation to commit murder, arson, kidnapping and aggravated assault. A call to the public defender representing him was not immediately returned Monday.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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