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Turnip the root of a law firm scare

January 1, 2008
A Fort Wayne law firm got a scare yesterday when it received a suspicious package from a disgruntled man included in a lawsuit filed by one of the firm's clients. The firm believed it could contain a bomb and called 9-1-1. It turns out it was only a turnip.

The firm Haller & Colvin called police around 3:15 p.m. Thursday after employees opened a package in a typical cardboard box addressed to the firm. The package contained a gift bag with tissue wrapping covering the contents, said Fort Wayne Police Department spokesman Michael Joyner, but no note or anything to indicate there was a bomb inside.

The law firm had reason to be suspicious - the sender of the package was an individual whom the firm didn't represent, but is party to a lawsuit to clean up the title to some real estate owned by one of the firm's clients. Mark Giaquinta, partner at Haller & Colvin, said this man has claimed to be financially ruined as a result of the real estate transaction and has demonstrated in the past that he's a volatile individual.

The firm had sent a letter to the man asking his help in removing his name from the real estate title; the man returned a letter with an obscenity written largely across the paper, Giaquinta said. Without his cooperation, the law firm had to include the man in the lawsuit. After doing so, the firm received the suspicious package.

Based on the law firm's concerns, the police followed protocol and called in the city's bomb unit and evacuated the building. The bomb unit used a robot to pick up the package and move it to the parking lot to take X-rays.

"Based upon the X-rays we took, the technicians felt comfortable saying there was no bomb inside that could do damage," Joyner said, adding the police decided to destroy the package because of the firm's concerns.

The robotic device was able to introduce a high-pressure stream of water onto the package, open it up, and show the contents inside. A technician found a turnip in a sandwich bag inside the gift bag.

Joyner said the police rendered the area safe at about 6 p.m.
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