Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Man Posts Online Threats & Allegations - Gets Convicted

John E. Murphy, Acting United States Attorney announced that 32-year-old Steven Weste is in federal custody today after a jury in San Antonio found him guilty of making false statements to and concealing material facts from federal authorities and e-mailing threats to kill people including a person hired to be a U.S. Border Patrol agent, a Virginia police officer, and Weste’s former girlfriend.

Following the jury’s verdict handed down yesterday, U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez ordered that Weste, who had been out on a $50,000 unsecured bond prior to trial, be remanded to the custody of the United States Marshal. Judge Rodriguez scheduled sentencing for October 30, 2009.

Weste, a Judson High School teacher who was transferred to an administrative post subsequent to being indicted, faces up to five years in federal prison per each of the 15 counts of which he was convicted.

The jury found that between November 2006 and January 2007, Weste sent scores of e-mails which either contained threats to kill or contained false statements. Testimony during the trial revealed that among those e-mails, Weste, in December 2006, threatened to kill his former student and former girlfriend, who was at the time attending the College of William and Mary in Virginia, upon her return home during Christmas break. Weste followed up by sending e-mails to a campus Police Lieutenant threatening to kill him and “everyone close to” him if he continued investigating Weste’s initial e-mail threat to kill his former girlfriend.

Testimony also revealed that Weste e-mailed a threatening communication on December 21, 2006 to one of his former students who was attending Massachusetts Institute of Technology in which Weste threatened to kill the student and his entire family.

In addition to e-mailing the threats to kill, jurors also found that in November 2006, Weste, using aliases, sent various e-mails to federal authorities which contained false child molestation and sexual assault allegations with the intent to discredit an individual hired to be a U.S. Border Patrol agent in El Paso. The agent had previously dated the sister of Weste’s former girlfriend and Judson student.

This case was investigated by the College of William and Mary Police Department, Department of Homeland Security–Office of Inspector General, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Internal Affairs (CBPIA), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation together with the Texas Department of Public Safety. The police departments from the Judson Independent School District, University of Texas at Austin and Massachusetts Institute of Technology as well as the San Antonio Police Department also provided assistance in this investigation.

Former CBPIA Special Agent Joe Arredondo, who began the investigation more than two years ago, came out of retirement to provide invaluable assistance to the prosecution throughout the trial. Assistant United States Attorneys Jim Blankinship and Tom McHugh are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.


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