Thomas C. Butler, Doctor in MIA Scare, Once Convicted of Carrying Bubonic Plague
Back in 2003 Butler, then a professor at Texas Tech, reported that 30 vials of plague had gone missing form his lab. It later turned out he had swiped them himself, and was found guilty of "exporting the vials, lying to federal agents and stealing research funds." He spent about two years in prison for the incident, but was later acquitted of charges of transporting the plague.
Reports the AP:
A frantic search for the vials ended when Butler gave FBI agents a written statement in which he admitted a "misjudgment" in not telling his supervisor that the vials had been "accidentally destroyed," according to court records.There's no word on whether Butler's past conviction played into TSA's decision to evacuate the airport. It also appears that Butler will not face charges.
Before Butler's trial, leading scientific organizations expressed concern about the criminal case against him and its effect on infectious disease research. Four Nobel laureates said in an open letter that Butler had been "subjected to unfair and disproportionate treatment" and that prosecuting his case "is having a negative impact on the future of research in this crucial national-security-related field."
Butler testified that FBI agents forced him to make the admission to calm the public's fears.
At the time, Butler was returning to America from Saudi Arabia where he teaches at a university.