Court to Sentence Bomb-Hoax Suspect

    Three months after orchestrating a bomb threat that forced a
    seven-hour evacuation of the School
    of Medicine
    complex, a former UCSD
    employee awaits sentencing for the hoax after pleading guilty earlier this
    week.

    Related Links

    Jan. 10, 2008 — "FBI Arrests New Bomb-Hoax Suspect"


    Dec. 6, 2007 — "Bomb Threat Empties Campus Medical Complex"

    Richard Sills Jr., who worked in the Leichtag
    Biomedical Research
    Building
    for seven months prior to
    the Dec. 5 bomb scare, could face up to five years in prison when he is
    sentenced by a federal court judge.

    Sills, 54, pleaded guilty to one count of making threats
    involving animal enterprises, and will appear before U.S. District Judge Larry
    Burns on June 16.

    According to an indictment issued by the San Diego U.S.
    Attorney’s office, Sills was initially charged with three counts of providing
    false information and hoaxes as well as two counts of making telephoned bomb
    threats.

    He was arrested on Jan. 4 by members of the FBI’s Joint
    Terrorism Task Force, though a brief treatment at Alvarado
    Hospital
    in East
    County
    delayed his arraignment
    until Jan. 14.

    The indictment alleges that Sills threatened to detonate
    multiple remote-controlled explosives in six campus buildings if all animals
    housed in campus research facilities were not released.

    A letter sent to the UCSD Police Department claimed that the
    Animal Liberation Front, an animal-rights activist group that has accepted
    responsibility for other threats against University
    of California
    laboratories,
    coordinated the attack.

    “This will be a 9/11 event for the raising of awareness of
    what you and institutions like you are doing to these defensles [sic] sentiant
    [sic] beings,” the letter read.

    A device later found to be a dummy bomb was discovered in
    Leichtag at 10:26 a.m. on Dec. 5,
    and the entire School of Medicine
    complex was cleared out by members of the Metro-Arson Strike Team.

    Members of the North American Animal Liberation Press
    Office, a group that advocates animal-rights reform and handles media requests
    for ALF, could not confirm whether Sills was a member of the organization.

    “I never heard a word from this guy, or from anybody that
    knew anything about it,” ALPO spokesman Jerry Vlasak said. “We don’t have any
    independent confirmation that he really was with the ALF.”

    ALPO, which Vlasak called an “above-ground” organization,
    does not know the identities of ALF members.

    The FBI arrested former UCSD employee Timothy Kalka three
    days after the hoax, but dismissed all charges against him on Jan. 4.

    The UC Board of Regents is currently seeking an injunction
    against ALF, along with two other animal-rights organizations, due to the
    groups’ alleged harassment of professors and researchers working with animal
    subjects.

    Last month, the husband of a UC Santa Cruz biology professor
    was attacked in the couple’s home just weeks after the words “murderer” and
    “torturer” were chalked on the sidewalk in front of their residence.

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