Jump to search Jump to main navigation Jump to main content Jump to footer navigation

Global Security Newswire

Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues

Produced by
NationalJournal logo

Plague Expert Appeals Conviction to Supreme Court

A Texas plague expert who served a two-year sentence for fraud and other charges has appealed his conviction to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Associated Press reported today (see GSN, Dec. 13, 2005).

A 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Thomas Butler’s conviction in October, and the full court in January refused to hear the case. The U.S. Supreme Court could soon decide whether to consider the April 10 appeal, said Jonathan Turley, Butler’s attorney.

Butler in 2003 reported that vials of plague had been stolen from his laboratory at Texas Tech University. Federal agents quickly blanketed Lubbock in search of the vials, only to have Butler admit that he had “accidentally destroyed” the samples.

Butler during his trial claimed that FBI agents demanded he confess in order to quell fears that terrorists might have been involved in the incident. He was convicted in December 2003 of 47 of 69 charges, largely connected to claims of defrauding the Texas Tech health sciences center. Jurors acquitted Butler of illegal transportation and smuggling of plague samples and of lying to federal agents.

Turley called the 47 convictions “raw injustice,” AP reported.

“The legal system failed Tom Butler,” he said. In the appeal to the Supreme Court, Turley argued that the charges connected to the plague incident should have been separated from the fraud allegations (Betsy Blaney, Associated Press/KRISTV.com, May 5).

Note to our Readers

GSN ceased publication on July 31, 2014. Its articles and daily issues will remain archived and available on NTI’s website.

NTI Analysis

  • Latin America and the Caribbean 1540 Reporting

    Oct. 20, 2014

    This report is part of a collection examining implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540, which requires all states to implement measures aimed at preventing non-state actors from acquiring NBC weapons, related materials, and their means of delivery. It details implementation efforts in Central America, South America and the Caribbean to-date.

  • UNSCR 1540 Resource Collection

    Oct. 6, 2014

    The UNSCR 1540 Resource Collection examines implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540, which requires all states to implement measures aimed at preventing non-state actors from acquiring NBC weapons, related materials, and their means of delivery. It details implementation efforts in all of the regions and countries of the world to-date.