Sebring chief faces no charges in sand snafu, FBI says

By Ashley Luthern


An investigation into beach sand sent in unmarked envelopes is closed, and the local fire chief who mailed the sand will not face any charges.

“We were involved, along with Mahoning County [Emergency Management Agency] and Boardman police and that matter has been resolved, and from my understanding, there are going to be no charges,” said Special Agent Vicki Anderson, FBI media coordinator in Cleveland.

Sebring Fire Chief James Cannell had mailed beach sand from his vacation to local fire departments, as had been his tradition.

This year, he also sent sand to the main stations of the Boardman Fire Department and the Western Reserve Joint Fire District.

The envelopes arrived July 16 and did not have a return address, lacked a letter of explanation and had an out-of-state postal code stamp. All that inside was a granular substance, later identified as sand.

Those factors, along with the fact that both Boardman and Poland had recently hosted President Barack Obama, led officials to consider the letters suspicious.

The Mahoning County HazMat team, local law enforcement, the FBI and the postal inspection service were notified, and about an hour after receiving the envelopes, firefighters in Boardman and Poland contacted other departments and learned of Cannell’s tradition.

The Sebring chief confirmed that he sent the sand, apologized and later told The Vindicator that he would not mail sand again.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service said postal inspectors did not conduct any interviews for the investigation.

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