If a 4-year sentence for sending some harassing postcards sounds overly harsh, consider the case of Frank Abbott Sweeney. The 76-year-old Boise, Idaho, man was sentenced to 51 months in federal prison Friday after pleading guilty to six counts of stalking, and the Statesman reports it all began with a parked car. An unnamed woman apparently spoke with Sweeney about taking a handicapped spot at a post office without having displayed a handicapped tag. Prosecutors say Sweeney retaliated by hiring a private investigator to track down the woman's contact info. Over the next three years he then sent her a slew of postcards, managing to track her down even when she moved and started using a PO Box.
The postcards featured racist and sexual language and were signed "Carson Wells," the hit man in the film No Country for Old Men. And hers wasn't the only mailbox on the receiving end of Sweeney's effort. Prosecutors say he signed other postcards in the woman's name and sent them to the Idaho Black History Museum (that one featured slurs and led to the FBI getting involved) and incarcerated murderers, who then sent the woman replies. Prosecutors said Sweeney took measures to avoid detection, such as not leaving fingerprints on the postcards and buying them in cash; his attorney countered that he has long had mental issues. A judge cited the length of the postcard campaign as reflective of "calculated, intentional behavior" in sentencing him. (The Statesman has more details here.)