A young man in Pennsylvania was given a 20 to 40 year prison sentence for mailing a birthday card laced with ricin to his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend.
Nicholas Helman, a 20-year-old resident of Hatboro, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in November after he bragged to a co-worker about lacing the scratch-and-sniff card with ricin and mailing it to his ex’s new boyfriend. The co-worker alerted the recipient and were able to prevent him from opening the card. Helman was arrested after tests confirmed that the card was, in fact, laced with the deadly poison. He was arrested at an apartment he lived in with his mother by several heavily-armed police officers, and charged with attempted murder and risking a catastrophe.
Eight months later, he was charged with asking an inmate to kill the detective who was investigating his case and rip out the tongue of the prosecutor. He also, as he admitted in court on Monday, made threats against witnesses and co-workers.
Herman told the judge at Monday’s sentencing, through tears, that he was “extremely sorry” for what he did and that he wished he could “turn back the clock.”
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“I don't know how or why my mind came to this awful decision,” he said.
“You are bright. You are articulate. You are responsive,” Judge Alan Rubenstein said. “But I don't think you appreciate the damage you have caused to people very close to you.”
The judge told Helman that he would recommend that he be sent to a facility with a strong mental health program.
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“You're a 20-year-old man who has basically ruined your life because of a foolish plot,” Rubenstein told the young man. “Your anger festered. It could have been an absolute nightmare for so many people."