Home Pittsburgh Press Releases 2012 Three Charged with Making Threats Against University of Pittsburgh

Three Charged with Making Threats Against University of Pittsburgh

U.S. Attorney’s Office August 15, 2012
  • Western District of Pennsylvania

PITTSBURGH—A federal grand jury in the Western District of Pennsylvania today returned two indictments charging a resident of Dublin, Ireland, with a series of crimes related to e-mailed threats targeting the University of Pittsburgh, three federal courthouses, and a federal officer. A third indictment charges two Ohio men for additional online threats against the university, announced U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton.

A 35-count indictment named Adam Stuart Busby, 64, of Dublin, as the sole defendant. According to the indictment, from March 30, 2012 until April 21, 2012, Busby sent more than 40 e-mails targeting the University of Pittsburgh campus. The e-mailed bomb threats resulted in more than 100 evacuations at the University of Pittsburgh, greatly disrupting the university community. The indictment charges Busby with 17 counts of wire fraud, 16 counts of maliciously conveying false information in the form of bomb threats, and two counts of international extortion.

A separate but related four-count indictment alleges that on June 20 and 21, 2012, Busby maliciously conveyed false information through the Internet claiming bombs had been placed at U.S. courthouses located in Pittsburgh, Erie, and Johnstown, Pennsylvania. In addition, Busby is charged with threatening David J. Hickton, a federal officer, while he was engaged in the performance of his official duties.

A one-count indictment named Alexander Waterland, 24, of Loveland, Ohio; and Brett Hudson, 26, of Hillsboro, Ohio, as defendants. According to the indictment, between April 25, 2012 and May 23, 2012, Waterland and Hudson engaged in a conspiracy targeting the University of Pittsburgh with interstate threats claiming they were associates of the computer hacking group Anonymous. The threats—posted on YouTube by a user calling himself “AnonOperative13,” sent via e-mail, and publicized via Twitter—attempted to extort the chancellor of the university into placing an apology on the university’s website. The threats claimed that if the chancellor did not comply with their demands, confidential information stored on the computer servers of the University of Pittsburgh would be released.

The maximum penalty for wire fraud is 20 years in prison. The maximum penalty for maliciously conveying false information is 10 years in prison. The maximum penalty for extortionate threats is two years in prison. Because all counts charged are felonies, the maximum fine on each count is $250,000. The law provides for a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both for Waterland and Hudson. Under the federal sentencing guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendants.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James T. Kitchen is prosecuting these cases on behalf of the government.

The FBI, the Western Pennsylvania Joint Terrorism Task Force, and the University of Pittsburgh Police Department conducted the investigation leading to the indictment in these cases.

An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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