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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Vermont

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 20, 2018

19 Year Old Man Accused of Sending Threats to South Burlington High School Students and Faculty Sentenced to Five Year Probationary Term

The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont announced that Josiah Leach, 19, of South Burlington, Vermont, appeared today before the Honorable Geoffrey W. Crawford for sentencing. Leach previously pled guilty to sending threats in interstate commerce that terrorized students and faculty at South Burlington High School in April 2017. Leach, who was first arrested on April 21, 2017, has been in custody for a total of approximately three months and ten days since the initial charges were filed.

Following argument from both parties and a statement by Leach, Chief Judge Crawford imposed a sentence of five years of probation. Judge Crawford commented on the seriousness of the harm caused by Leach’s threats, but noted that Leach also possessed the capacity to redirect his life in a more positive direction.

Under the terms of his release, Leach is forbidden from having any contact with the individuals he listed on a “kill list” at the time of the offense. He is also required to engage in mental health and substance abuse treatment as needed, and will be prohibited from coming within 500 feet of the South Burlington High School complex. Leach’s computer use will be subject to monitoring by the United States Probation Office and he will be required to meet with Judge Crawford every six months.  As a convicted felon, Leach is prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms. If Leach violates any condition of his release, he will be subject to resentencing on the underlying offense, exposing him to a term of up to five years of incarceration.

U.S. Attorney Christina E. Nolan thanked the FBI, the South Burlington Police, and the Vermont State Police for their rapid, collaborative response in April 2017, their efficient identification of Leach as the perpetrator, and their continuous support throughout the investigation. Nolan also recognized David Young, Superintendent of South Burlington Schools, and Pat Burke, Principal of South Burlington High School, for their leadership during and in the aftermath of Leach’s crime.  She stated, “no child or employee should ever have to fear for their safety, especially not in an educational setting.  Law enforcement at all levels will continue to work together to prioritize combatting violent crime and bringing swift justice to those who would strike terror in our educational institutions.  Children are our future, and law enforcement agencies will continue to collaborate with each other and our community leaders to protect them and their schools.” 

Leach was represented by Assistant Federal Public Defender Elizabeth Quinn. AUSAs Michael Drescher and Eugenia A. P. Cowles represented the United States.

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Updated February 20, 2018