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State Police test suspicious powdery substance found in envelope at Gallivan’s office in Albany

ALBANY – A suspicious envelope containing a powdery substance was found Monday morning in the office of State Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan.

At about 10:30 a.m., State Police and Albany firefighters were seen going in and out of Gallivan’s ninth-floor office suite in the Legislative Office Building. With members of the Senate’s Sergeant-at-Arms Office outside the senator’s office, police left after more than a half-hour at the scene; a State Police investigator carried off a brown box.

Gallivan, who was traveling to Albany at the time, said in an interview Monday afternoon that State Police described the letter as containing a “nonspecific threat.” The Republican senator from Elma said he had no further information and that he was waiting to speak directly with State Police. It was not known how long the lab test on the envelope would take, he said.

The senator’s office was briefly cleared as police gathered the evidence. Gallivan said officials told his staff members that they were unaware of any other similar threats or letters being made against other state lawmakers.

Gallivan’s office manager was going through the morning mail when she opened an envelope and powder spilled out.

“I think that they didn’t clear the entire building probably means something, as opposed to clearing just our office for a short time,” Gallivan said.

Trooper Mark J. Cepiel, a State Police spokesman, said the unknown substance from the envelope was being tested at a State Police lab.

The envelope and its contents were tested at the scene by Albany firefighters, and it was determined that there were no biohazards. There have been no additional reports of suspicious letters to other state lawmakers, Cepiel said.

Cepiel defined the “nonspecific threat” as wording in the letter that did not specifically name anyone. “Nobody was targeted,” he said, and there was “no manner of type of violence” mentioned.

The incident came as state lawmakers returned here Monday to try to pass a new state budget by Thursday’s deadline.

Gallivan, a former Erie County sheriff, was elected to the Senate in 2010. He also had been a captain in the State Police and was a member of the state Board of Parole.

The Buffalo News reported last June that a half-dozen female members of the State Legislature had received death threats.