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16 year old indicted for bomb threats at Purdue, other schools | Purdue News | Lafayette Online
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News | Purdue News

16 year old indicted for bomb threats at Purdue, other schools

HAMMOND, Ind. — The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Indiana announced that a three-count indictment was returned against Ashton Lundeby for his role in Internet bomb and related threats directed to Purdue University at West Lafayette, Ind., Indiana University/Purdue University at Fort Wayne, Ind., and numerous other educational institutions throughout the country.

Lundeby, 16, of Oxford, N.C., was arrested by the FBI at his home in Oxford on March 6, 2009. A federal search warrant was also executed at that time. Lundeby was arrested pursuant to a juvenile criminal complaint filed in the Northern District of Indiana. Lundeby was ordered detained and remains in federal custody. Under federal law, juvenile proceedings are sealed.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a motion seeking to proceed against Lundeby as if he were an adult. The U.S. District Court in South Bend granted that motion and this indictment followed. An indictment is merely a charging document and all persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty in court.

The indictment alleges an extensive conspiracy involving Lundeby and unnamed other individuals to transmit bomb threats through the internet. Lundeby, often using the pseudonym “Tyrone,” and his co-conspirators used Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) software to set up large-scale conference calls across the Internet. In addition, online computer gaming accounts were used so participants could listen and observe the police response in real-time. Lundeby and his associates charged fees to listen and observe. Lundeby and his associates used other software to disguise their true identities and the origin of the calls.

Lundeby and other co-conspirators would often target institutions that used Web-based video surveillance cameras. They would log into those cameras, call in a bomb threat, and watch the police response in real-time. This illegal conduct is known as “swatting,” making false reports of an emergency to a police department for the purpose of causing a law enforcement response to the non-existent emergency. Lundeby conducted this activity from his personal computer at his home in Oxford, N.C.

The indictment alleges that on Jan. 31, 2009, Lundeby and others directed calls to authorities stating that a bomb had been placed on the campus of Indiana University/Purdue University in Fort Wayne, Ind.

On Feb. 15, 2009, Lundeby and others directed multiple calls to Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., stating that bombs had been placed on the campus. A follow-up call to Purdue University was made by a co-conspirator claiming to have seen someone place devices onto computers located in the mechanical engineering building.

On March 3, 2009, members of the conspiracy again targeted Purdue University. During this call they identified a person in the computer science building as being armed with a firearm.

In addition to the threats in the Northern District of Indiana, the indictment alleges that Lundeby and co-conspirators:

  • Directed bomb threats on Feb. 15, 2009, to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C.
  • Directed bomb threats on Feb. 21, 2009, to Florida State University, Tallahassee, Fla.
  • Directed bomb threats on Feb. 24, 2009, to Clemson University, Clemson, S.C.
  • Directed bomb threats on Feb. 24-25, 2009, to Boston College, Boston, Mass.
  • Directed bomb threats to FBI offices located in Pueblo, CO, and Monroe, La.

The indictment also alleges that as part of the conspiracy conspirators offered, for a nominal fee, to make bomb threat calls – often to high schools – to cause closures. The indictment alleges that bomb threats were made on or about March 4, 2009, to the following schools:

  • West Hempfield Middle School, Irwin, Penn.
  • North Farmington H.S., Farmington Hills, Mich.
  • Mill Valley H.S., Shawnee, Kan.
  • Hamden H.S., Hamden, Conn.
  • Glynn Academy H.S., Brunswick, Ga.

Specifically, Lundeby is charged in count one of the indictment with conspiring, from mid-2008 through March 6, 2009, to make bomb threats and conveying false information through interstate commerce. Lundeby is charged in count two with a substantive violation for the Jan. 31, 2009, threat to Indiana University/Purdue University at Fort Wayne and in count three for the Feb. 15, 2009, threat to Purdue University.

This indictment was the result of an extensive investigation by the FBI, the FBI’s Cybercrime Squad based in Indianapolis, the Tippecanoe County Prosecutor’s Office and the Purdue University Police Department.

U.S. Attorney David Capp praised the cooperative investigative effort here stating, “To properly investigate a crime of this scope and magnitude requires sophisticated technical expertise as well as old fashioned police work. I am grateful for the substantial assistance received from the Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Patrick Harrington and his staff and from Chief John Cox and the Purdue University Police Department.”

Capp also praised the excellent assistance his office received from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of North Carolina. Capp concluded by stating, “This type of activity on the Internet will not be tolerated. No matter where you are located, conduct like this will be thoroughly investigated and, where appropriate, presented for indictment.”

This case has been assigned to and will be handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth M. Hays in the South Bend office of the U.S. Attorney.

Lundeby will be arraigned before Magistrate Judge Nuechterlein on Friday, July 10. The specific sentence in each case to be imposed upon conviction will be determined by the judge after a consideration of federal sentencing statutes and the federal sentencing guidelines.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office emphasized that an indictment is merely an allegation and that all persons charged are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

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