Investigators: White powder at Fla. congressman's office not Anthrax

BOCA RATON, Fla. --

Investigators have determined that white powder found in an envelope at U.S. Rep. Allen West's office Friday was not anthrax, according to Boca Raton Fire Rescue.

West's chief of staff released a statement Friday afternoon saying a staffer of the West for Congress Campaign office opened the letter, which had been picked up from a post office box in Deerfield Beach.

West's representatives said the envelope contained white powder as well as a letter that made derogatory statements against West and mentioned anthrax.

Boca Raton firefighters and the FBI moved into the office after the letter was reported.

"It was on a desk in the office," said Frank Correggio, of Boca Raton Fire Rescue.

Only one employee was in the office at the time, and she opened the letter just after 1 p.m.

"Fire Rescue services suited up, went in in special suits," Correggio said.

Dozens of rescuers rushed into the office and, almost as quickly, rushed back out. Authorities also searched West's Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach offices for any similar substances.

Firefighters determined the letter was just a hoax.

"The substance was not of a biological nature. It was not anthrax," Correggio said.

"I am deeply disturbed at this incident, which threatened a member of our campaign staff," West said in the statement released Friday. "I thoroughly condemn this act, which does nothing but evidence the sick and deranged nature of the perpetrator. I will continue to serve the constituents of Florida’s Congressional District 22 with honor and integrity."

The employee left the office Friday afternoon without comment.

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