Ashton Lundeby Update

Posted by William Grigg on May 7, 2009 02:08 PM

 

It appears that, contrary to what I reported two days ago, Ashton Lundeby is not being held under the USA PATRIOT act.

Earlier today, a memo marked “Not for distribution outside law enforcement” was circulated among officials in Indiana — where Ashton is being held at the Thomas N. Frederick Juvenile Justice Center in South Bend. The memo complained of hostile publicity given to the case inspired by what were described as “false claims” from Ashton’s mother, Annette Lundeby, about the use of the PATRIOT act in the arrest and detention of her son.

Those claims led the office of US Attorney David Capp to issue a press release today insisting that the arrest and detention of Ashton Lundeby “is unrelated to the PATRIOT act.”
“The juvenile has appeared in court on three occasions, once in North Carolina for an initial hearing and a detention hearing, and twice in Indiana for a continued initial hearing and a status hearing,” the press release relates. “At each hearing, the juvenile was represented by counsel…. The juvenile is presently housed in a juvenile facility in the Northern District of Indiana where he does not have contact with adult offenders. His mother has been apprised of each court appearance and has attended the hearing in North Carolina; she did not appear at either of the hearings in Indiana.”

As the press release notes, Annette Lundeby was present during the initial hearing in North Carolina, and until today she was the only source available to describe the details of her son’s arrest and the terms of his detention. In interviews I conducted with her both on May 5 and 6, Mrs. Lundeby insisted that the PATRIOT act was invoked by the Feds in this case.

I reported her claims in good faith, buttressed by the assessment presented in the WRAL report from former U.S. Attorney Dan Boyce, as well as the fact — noted in the essay published on LRC two days ago — that the PATRIOT act’s definition of “domestic terrorism” has been used in at least one other case involving a juvenile accused of a serious crime.

In updates to the original story, I relate that a source close to the prosecution (not directly involved in the prosecution, but with detailed, first-hand knowledge of it) insists that the case against Ashton is strong enough that the use of such extraordinary measures would not be necessary.

Title 18, Section 844 (e) of the US Code makes it a felony punishable by a prison term of up to 10 years to make a bomb threat, either real or bogus, using “the mail, telephone, telegraph, or other instrument of interstate commerce….” That provision would explain the involvement of the FBI in a suspected bomb threat made from North Carolina against Purdue University in Indiana. Whatever the wisdom of that statute, its existence would appear to make use of the PATRIOT act gratuituous. This doesn’t mean that the Feds didn’t take the easy route, as Mrs. Lundeby claims, of course. But it does mean that if Ashton was involved in making bomb threats, he bought himself more trouble than he expected.

Expect a follow-up on all of this later today on Pro Libertate

Posted by William Grigg on May 7, 2009 02:08 PM

 

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May 8, 2009

Ashton Lundeby Update: Less Than Meets The Eye

by Doug Mataconis

Earlier this week, I wrote about the story of Ashton Lundeby — a 16 year-old kid being held in Indiana in connection with an alleged bomb threat — and his mother’s allegations that he son was being detained pursuant to the PATRIOT Act.

Well, it seems that there is much less to this story than there seemed to be at first blush.

First of all, it’s quite apparent that the PATRIOT Act is not even involved in this case. Lundeby was arrested under a 70 year old law that makes it a Federal crime to use telecommunications equipment to make interstate bomb threats.

Second, it’s quite obvious that Lundeby is not the innocent 16 year-old that his mother made him out to be in initial reports:

A 16-year-old North Carolina boy arrested for allegedly making a bomb threat against Purdue University had a secret identity as a superstar in an unusual online subculture — one dedicated to making prank phone calls for a live internet audience, his mother admitted Thursday.

“I heard the prank phone calls he made,” says Annette Lundeby of Oxford. “They were really funny prank phone calls…. He made phone calls to, like, Walmart.”

Lundeby confirmed that her son was known online as “Tyrone,” a celebrity in a prank-calling community that grew late last year out of the trouble-making “/b/” board on 4chan. Using the VOIP conferencing software Ventrilo, as many as 300 listeners would gather on a server run by Tyrone to listen to him and other amateur voice actors make often-crude and racist phone calls, some of which are archived on YouTube. The broadcasts were organized through websites like PartyVanPranks.com.

A former fan of Tyrone’s work helped lead the police to Lundeby’s son after the boy allegedly moved beyond pranks this year and began accepting donations from students eager to miss a day of school. In exchange for a little money, Tyrone would phone in a bomb threat that would shutter the donor’s school for a day.

“People would pay about five dollars, and they get to submit a number,” says Jason Bennett, a 19-year-old college student in Syndey, Australia. “It was getting way out of hand.”

Lundeby admits that her son received donations for his prank phone calls, but denies that he made bomb threats. She says her son was with her, coming home from church, at the time of the February 15 phone call that summoned a bomb squad and evacuated the mechanical engineering building at Purdue University in Indiana.

Bennett didn’t hear the Purdue call, but he says he heard Tyrone admit to that bomb threat later, and decided enough was enough. He contacted university police and began helping them get the goods on “Tyrone.”

Now this doesn’t mean that Lundeby is guilty of the charges against him, but these reports do cast serious doubts on his mother’s credibility, most especially on her assertion that her son is a victim of overzealous use of the PATRIOT Act. So, you know, sorry for jumping the gun on this story because, as Rick Sincere says, it’s pretty clear we’ve been punked.

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