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White powder substance sent to Pinellas justice center is not anthrax

LARGO — Authorities determined the envelope of white powder that was received Thursday at the Pinellas County Criminal Justice Center is not anthrax.

More tests need to be conducted to determine the chemical composition of the substance, which was mailed to a judge and opened by an assistant, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

No one was harmed in the incident.

Deputies said they take the matter seriously and are conducting a criminal investigation to determine where the substance came from and who sent it.

The assistant was exposed to the powder when she opened the envelope and powder poured out, deputies said. Both the judge and the assistant were not identified.

The area where the envelope was opened was evacuated, but the building was not because authorities determined the powder was contained to that one area.

The call came in about 2:30 p.m. to the criminal court complex at 14250 49th St. N in Largo.

Several similar cases were investigated in the Tampa Bay area during the anthrax scare of 2001, which started when anthrax-laced letters were sent to media and government offices in Florida, New York and Washington, killing five people. Locally, none of the investigations yielded anthrax, a deadly bacteria that is known to occur naturally but also can be used as a biological weapon.

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White powder substance sent to Pinellas justice center is not anthrax 12/17/10 [Last modified: Friday, December 17, 2010 9:37am]
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