FORT WORTH, Texas — A Texas woman is accused of sending homemade bombs in 2016 to then-President Barack Obama and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott that could have killed or maimed the leaders, prosecutors said.

Julia Poff, 46, mailed the devices in October 2016, along with a third package that she sent to the Social Security Administration, according to an indictment. Of the three packages, only Abbott opened his. It did not detonate because “he did not open it as designed,” court documents said.

Investigators traced Poff to the package sent to Obama because of cat hair found under an address label, according to a court document from a Nov. 17 detention hearing.

A grand jury indicted her this month on six counts, including mailing injurious articles and transporting explosives with the intent to kill and injure, according to documents filed this week in district court in Houston.

Poff is being held at the Houston federal detention center. Poff’s attorney, Ashley Kaper, said her efforts to keep her client out of custody have been “unsuccessful,” but she declined to comment further, citing the newness of the case.

Federal investigators said the improvised explosive device sent to Abbott contained a cellphone, a cigarette package and a salad dressing cap, according to the detention hearing document. It says a similar device was sent to Obama and that “the same” device was sent to the Social Security Administration.

The cigarette box used in the device sent to Abbott bore a Texas tobacco stamp that identifies the store where the cigarettes were bought. The two incendiary powders in the box matched materials found in Poff’s home, federal court documents showed.

At the hearing, a federal agent testified that Poff was angry with Abbott because she did not receive support from her ex-husband when Abbott served as Texas Attorney General, before he was elected governor in 2014. According to court documents, Poff’s application for social security benefits was denied.

The agent also testified that Poff said she just didn’t like Obama.

Katie Hill, a spokeswoman with the former president’s private office, declined to comment Friday. A call by The Associated Press to Abbott’s public affairs office in Austin was not immediately returned.

A criminal background check shows Poff has a misdemeanor conviction for theft. She was also convicted for state felony fraud. In both cases, she was given probation.

A pretrial conference in the case is scheduled for early next year.


Associated Press writer Sara Burnett contributed to this report from Chicago.


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