WSOP bracelet winner charged in anthrax hoax

Jon Pill
Posted on: March 01, 2021 05:50 PST

In 1976, the Nevada Gambling Commission temporarily suspended Brent Carter's license to participate in horse racing. The reason was alleged cheating. They conducted their investigation, ruled there was no wrongdoing, and reinstated Carter's license. Then they forgot about it.

Carter did not forget, nor did he forgive.

The years passed. Carter played his cards right, picking up a pair of WSOP bracelets in the 90s. The first was for 1991's $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em event. The second came in '94's $1,500 Limit Omaha event.

Then in the wake of the Vegas shooting on October 1st, 2017, Carter rang up the Gaming Commission and left a voicemail. "Well, it looks like the shooter in Las Vegas missed you guys. As long as you're not available, you should be made permanently not available," the message said.

In all, 60 people had died in the shooting and a further 411 were injured. The call was viewed as a threat. It was to be the first of many.

Quit while you're behind

Carter didn't stop there. A month later he called again, saying the folks at the commission were "all criminals anyway, evil, dishonest people, just un-prosecuted criminals. Why have innocent people killed when you could have the Office of Inspector General people eliminated for their dirty deeds?"

After these threats, according to his accusers, Carter started to really push the boat out.

White powder started arriving in the Gaming Commission's mail. The first envelope, which arrived in April 2019 came with a note that said, "critical evidence." The analysts found that the contents were a mix of birdseed, dirt, loose scraps of human hair, and an office paperclip.

Later packages contained sugar, mimicking the vague description of anthrax in the 2001 bioterror attacks that Carter seemed to be referencing.

The petard hoist

In a 2020 interview with the police, held in October, Carter said he was trying to clear up his horse racing suspension from nearly 45 years earlier. He claimed to have contacted the Commission multiple times and not received any responses. In fact, the Commission had sent him three letters, each detailing that his suspension had passed decades ago.

Carter tried to pass off his harassment as humor. The complaint quotes Carter as telling the investigators that "if you try to make a point by being funny, you can create more trouble."

The complaint continues, detailing an exchange in which Carter tells an investigator, "I guess in my mind I didn't think this out. But when I sent stuff — the garbage or junk, whatever I sent, I guess it was revenge or trying to slow down their thinking."

Later, he added that the commission had been a "hazardous material" in his life. This quip was in response to his being told that the envelopes had to be treated as haz-mat.

In January 2021, a few months after speaking with investigators, another envelope from Carter arrived at the Commission. This one contained talcum powder.

Get Carter

This time investigators are not giving quarter. Carter has been charged with conveying false information and hoaxes. He is facing up to five years in prison and has pleaded not guilty. U.S. Magistrate Judge Christian Hummel released Carter until his trial, but only on strict conditions.

In show business, there is the "Bacon number." The number of people that connect one actor to Kevin Bacon via shared appearances in movies. In science, there is the "Erdos number," the number of co-authors that link Science papers together.

A few people have both a Bacon and an Erdos number, Natalie Portman springs to mind. Added together, these make up a person's Erdos-Bacon number.

There really ought to be a Erdos-Bacon number for poker players and convicts. Perhaps a Brunson-Bronson number.

If it existed, Bret Carter would have got himself on the short-list to earn one.

Featured image source: Flickr by "skepticalview"