Cousin of man possibly sickened by ricin indicted by federal grand jury, accused of cover-up
Associated Press Writer
SALT LAKE CITY ” The cousin of a man who may have been sickened by the deadly toxin ricin has been accused of failing to report that the substance was being illegally produced.
Thomas Tholen, 54, was indicted by a federal grand jury on the charge of misprision of felony ” having knowledge of a crime but failing to report it.
“He knew more than he stated, and he misrepresented what he knew,” U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman said Wednesday.
The manufacture or possession of ricin, a biological agent, is prohibited by federal law.
Tholen’s cousin, Roger Bergendorff, summoned an ambulance from his Las Vegas motel room Feb. 14, complaining of respiratory distress. He spent almost four weeks in a coma and has been treated for kidney failure, but it has not been determined if he was sickened by the ricin.
Tholen, who lives in suburban Salt Lake City, was collecting Roger Bergendorff’s belongings from the motel room on Feb. 28 when he gave a motel manager a plastic bag containing several vials of what turned out to be ricin powder.
Bergendorff, 57, remains in fair condition in a Las Vegas hospital and is a target of the investigation, said Tim Fuhrman, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Salt Lake City field office. Bergendorff, an unemployed graphic artist, has not been charged.