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Plague researcher charged with new crimes

Government files fresh charges against Thomas C. Butler while scientists continue to support him

Peg Brickley(pegbrickley@hotmail.com)

Prosecutors unleashed 54 new charges Wednesday (September 3) against Thomas C. Butler, the plague researcher already accused of having illegally transported vials of Yersinia pestis bacteria from Tanzania and within the United States to Army research laboratories.

Butler, who is scheduled to go to trial in the fall, was arrested in January after reporting that 30 vials of plague bacteria had gone missing from his laboratory at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, where he is chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases. At the time, he was charged with 15 felony counts of smuggling and lying to federal officials—charges that, if proven, could mean up to 74 years in prison for the 62-year-old researcher and fines of more than $3.5 million. He is currently free on $100,000 bond.

The new charges filed Wednesday, to which Butler pleaded innocent, include various counts of theft, embezzlement, and fraud. They have nothing...

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