updated 12/5/2008 7:55:33 PM ET 2008-12-06T00:55:33

A man apparently angered by the rejection of a visa application for his wife in Vietnam is accused of threatening a U.S. consular official with decapitation in a bloodstained letter mailed to a congressman's office, authorities said.

Phuong Nguyen Le, who told an FBI agent he bit his left thumb and signed the letter in blood, has been charged with threatening a U.S. official, authorities said.

Le, who worked for the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority, was arrested Wednesday. Authorities said he also had threatened in the letter to orchestrate a massacre worse than the Virginia Tech shootings.

U.S. Magistrate M. Hannah Lauck found probable cause Friday to present the case to a grand jury and ordered Le held in federal custody. If convicted, Le faces up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised probation, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Federal public defender Amy Austin, appointed to represent Le, did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

A sworn statement filed by FBI agent Douglas J. Brozick said the letter arrived Nov. 25 at the Richmond office of U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott, who had given Le a copy of the visa rejection letter written by the consular official. An intern noticed the blood on the letter, which included Le's name and return address, authorities said.

The affidavit said the letter threatened U.S. Consular Chief Charles Bennett, in Ho Chi Minh City, with decapitation. It also said Le's letter threatened "Some thing more beautiful than VA Tech years ago" and called Virginia Tech gunman Seung-Hui Cho a "young hero."

Cho killed 32 people at Virginia Tech before committing suicide in April 2007.

Brozick wrote that he interviewed Le and the man acknowledged writing and sending the letter to Scott's office. He reported that Le had said he bit his thumb to sign the letter.

The agent also asked Le to explain a part of the letter about Virginia Tech.

"Le stated that the Virginia Tech shooter didn't tell anybody, but Le was telling people now. Le stated that he was capable of being like the young hero at Virginia Tech," Brozick wrote in the affidavit.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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