**See prior reporting in the video above.
AKRON, Ohio (WJW) — A Mogadore man suspected of mailing feces to Ohio’s Republican state and federal legislators was arrested Friday and appeared before a magistrate.
Richard John Steinle, 77, is a former Portage County Common Pleas Court mediator who allegedly mailed more than 36 letters containing suspected feces to Ohio legislators in Ohio, Kentucky and Washington, D.C., between August 2021 and July 29 of this year, according to a criminal affidavit.
Steinle is charged with mailing “injurious articles” that are non-mailable. He was released on a $20,000 unsecured bond after his initial appearance in Ohio’s Northern District federal court on Friday. He’s due back in court on Aug. 25.
Caught in the act
Written on the paper letters were the words “pig” and “racist,” according to a U.S. Postal Service inspector who reviewed them. They were sent to more than two dozen state and federal lawmakers, including Ohio’s 4th District U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana. The Associated Press reported the letters never made it to their intended recipients.
Statehouse officials provided him with several more similar letters.
Later in July, postal employees in Lakemore found in their office’s collection box three more letters addressed to elected officials in Columbus that were “soiled in what appeared to be feces.”
Another postal inspector followed Steinle from his home to the post office, and recorded him on video as he dropped off another letter “while wearing a glove.”
That one was addressed to Rep. Jordan and contained a greeting card with a $1 bill and more “suspected feces.” Jordan’s office told inspectors they had received three similar letters.
For the letters’ return addresses, Steinle allegedly listed Ohio’s 9th District Court of Appeals in Akron, as well as the initials and home address of a clerk for that appellate court.
In an interview with U.S. Marshals, that clerk suggested Steinle as the suspect, since they would regularly correspond and knew each other’s home addresses, according to the affidavit.
Steinle ousted in 2017
Steinle worked as a mediator in the Portage County Common Pleas Court for more than 17 years, until he was forced to resign by Judge Lori Pittman in March 2017, court records show.
Steinle argued he was terminated for submitting an opinion editorial to the Plain Dealer that was critical of Gov. Mike DeWine’s handling of an $859 million fraud case within the Bureau of Workers Compensation, according to a federal civil rights lawsuit he filed against Judge Pittman later that year.
That appellate court clerk told federal investigators Steinle believed the government was “watching him,” and that his termination was a violation of his First Amendment right, according to the affidavit. Steinle also blamed the clerk because her husband, an attorney, would not represent him in a lawsuit related to his termination.
What can’t be sent by mail
Postal regulations bar “biological and regulated medical waste” like feces from being transported by mail.
The federal statute on mailing injurious articles makes it illegal to mail anything natural or artificial “which may kill or injure another,” property or other mail, but with exceptions for reasons like research or military use. Postal regulations Under the statute, other non-mailable items include:
- All kinds of poison or poisonous creatures;
- Explosives — or machines designed to explode — and flammable materials;
- Disease germs or scabs;
- Knives and ballistic knives with ejecting blades.
Defendants found guilty of that statute can face up to a year in prison and a fine. For those who intended to harm or kill the recipients, the prison sentence becomes 20 years. If someone dies as a result, the mailer faces life in prison or the death penalty.