Thomas Butler convicted

Texas Tech professor found not guilty of smuggling plague samples, but guilty of fraud and improper shipping

John Dudley Miller(johnmiller@nasw.org)
Dec 1, 2003

A Texas jury returned a split decision Monday (December 1) in the case of Texas Tech Professor Thomas Butler, acquitting him of smuggling plague samples and lying to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) about them but convicting him of fraud and improperly shipping samples.

Altogether, Butler was convicted of 47 of 69 charges filed against him, most of which were added on months after the original charges filed in January. Those were filed after Butler reported 30 vials of plague missing from his laboratory but then signed a confession—he says under duress—that he had destroyed them earlier.

According to one of Butler's lawyers, Jonathan Turley, those added-on charges mainly involved contractual disputes Butler had with Texas Tech over payments two pharmaceutical companies made to him for conducting other research not related to plague. The government argued that in one case, Butler defrauded Texas Tech by taking half the...

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