Former teacher accused of sending threats, white powder to Polk and Lake County schools

Authorities say a Florida woman mailed threatening letters containing white powder to elementary schools where she previously worked as a teacher.

Federal prosecutors say FBI agents arrested 65-year-old Maria Bassi Lauro at her Davenport home Wednesday. Records show she made her initial appearance in Tampa federal court on charges of mailing threatening communications and transmitting false information and hoaxes.

An indictment says Lauro sent the letters to three elementary schools in Polk and Lake counties between August and September last year. The recipients believed that the powder could be harmful because anthrax, ricin and other toxins can appear as a white powder.

Later analysis determined the powder was harmless. The indictment didn't suggest a motive for the threats.

Lauro was free on restrictive bail. Court records didn't list an attorney.

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