Former Florida teacher admits to sending white powder, threatening letters to schools that fired her

TAMPA, Fla. — A former Florida teacher pleaded guilty Thursday to sending envelopes filled with a white powder and in some cases threatening letters to employees at four different schools from where she was fired, prosecutors said.

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The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida said Maria Bassi Lauro, 66, of Davenport, was fired for poor performance at the schools and mailed the packages in August and September 2018 to employees who played some role in her performance reviews or terminations.

All four envelopes contained a suspicious powder and three also included notes indicating the package was “punishment,” prosecutors said. Authorities, including HAZMAT teams, responded each time a letter was found. Tests showed the substance was sodium bicarbonate, commonly known as baking soda.

Lauro admitted to sending the letters because she was upset and wanted the victims to think they were exposed to a deadly toxin. She pleaded guilty Thursday to three counts of making hoaxes that appeared to involve a biological agent or toxin. She faces up to 15 years in prison.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.