Bioterror art case dismissed

An artist who was linkurl:charged with mail and wire fraud;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/22260/ for receiving postal packages of bacteria to be used in his artwork has been cleared. A federal judge on Monday (April 21) dismissed the case against Steven Kurtz, an art professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo, saying that the government indictment against him "is insufficient on its face,"

By | April 23, 2008

An artist who was linkurl:charged with mail and wire fraud;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/22260/ for receiving postal packages of bacteria to be used in his artwork has been cleared. A federal judge on Monday (April 21) dismissed the case against Steven Kurtz, an art professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo, saying that the government indictment against him "is insufficient on its face," The Buffalo News reported. Richard Ebright, a microbiologist at Rutgers University, wrote in an E-mail to The Scientist: "Dismissal was the correct action. The case had no substance. None." Kurtz was indicted in 2004 along with University of Pittsburgh geneticist Robert Ferrell, who had purchased the bacterial cultures for Kurtz and sent them to him. That charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison under the Patriot Act, and both Kurtz and Ferrell originally pled not guilty. Ferrell linkurl:pled guilty;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/53702/ to a misdemeanor charge of "mailing an injurious article" in October; at the time, his family released a statement noting that Ferrell suffered from non-Hodgkins lymphoma and had agreed to the lesser charge to avoid prolonging the case. He was fined $500 and sentenced to 12 months of unsupervised probation. Ebright noted that it was "unfortunate that Ferrell was punished." The case may not be over, Kurtz linkurl:told The Chronicle of Higher Education,;http://chronicle.com/daily/2008/04/2584n.htm because the Justice Department can appeal the ruling.

Comments

Avatar of: jack watson

jack watson

Posts: 1

April 23, 2008

As a student majoring in biomedical art, Steve Kurtz and the critical art ensemble are my heroes. I just finished writing a paper on bioart. :D
Avatar of: Kenneth Roy

Kenneth Roy

Posts: 11

April 23, 2008

That charges should have been laid in this case was disgraceful. It brings the relevant laws into disrepute. Far more important cases need to be pursued.
Avatar of: DON BETOWSKI

DON BETOWSKI

Posts: 2

April 24, 2008

Sending bacteria (it was not mentioned what it was) through the mail sounds bad enough to me. As one who also has lymphoma, I think that Dr. Ferrell should have been sensitive enough to prevent future suffering through an accidental release of the bacteria.

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