News and Press Releases

Resident of Ireland Charged with Making Email Bomb Threats to Pitt Campus and Other Western Pennsylvania Buildings

Two Ohio Men Charged with Attempting to Extort the University of Pittsburgh

August 15, 2012

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 emailed threats targeting the University of Pittsburgh, three federal courthouses and federal officer. A third indictment charges two Ohio men for additional online threats against the University, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced.

"This is an example of 21st Century crime and 21st Century investigative work," stated U.S. Attorney Hickton. "The case could not have been solved without daily communication with the University of Pittsburgh. It could not have been solved without daily contact with our overseas counterparts. It could not have been solved without cooperation from the private sector. And it shows that cyber experts working for good can still outsmart those on the side of evil."

A 35-count indictment named Adam Stuart Busby, 64, of Dublin, Ireland, as the sole defendant. According to the indictment, from March 30, 2012, until April 21, 2012, Busby sent more than 40 emails targeting the University of Pittsburgh campus. The emailed bomb threats resulted in more than 100 evacuations at Pitt, 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 United States courthouses located in Pittsburgh, Erie and Johnstown, Pa.. 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, 2002, 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 - which were posted on YouTube by a user calling himself "AnonOperative13," sent via email, 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 United States Attorney James T. Kitchen is prosecuting these cases on behalf of the government.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, 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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