FORT WORTH, Texas — A Texas Tech professor is facing a long list of federal charges after erroneously reporting vials of bubonic plague missing from a university lab.
Last January, Dr. Thomas Butler, 61, reported the plague missing when it was not, triggering a nationwide terrorism alert and sending FBI agents rushing into Lubbock, Texas.
Butler first said the plague was missing but later admitted he had accidentally destroyed the vials, according to court documents filed by the FBI.
Butler is a noted researcher who had previously worked at Johns Hopkins and Case Western Reserve universities. He’s is on paid leave from Texas Tech’s medical school, where he is chief of the infectious diseases division.
Butler was freed on $100,000 bond shortly after his arrest in January.
His attorney, Floyd Holder, said Butler will plead not guilty to the 15-count indictment.
Butler faces up to 74 years in prison and almostd $4 million in fines if convicted.
Good news? No plague in terrorist hands. Bad news? Poor judgement by someone for whom judgement is the lives of others. His career is irreparable, and he’s going to stand trial (and be convicted of something).
Honesty. The unpleasantly best policy.