Former student accused of bomb threats agrees to pay Pitt $8k

Liz Navratil | March 19, 2010    

A former student accused of making threats to University buildings agreed last week to pay… A former student accused of making threats to University buildings agreed last week to pay Pitt $8,000 and perform community service, hoping to avoid prosecution.

Last Friday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Constance Bowden allowed former Pitt student Louisa Ewuresi Nkrumah, of Harrisburg, to enter the Pre-Trial Diversion Program, according to court documents.

The program lets people accused of crimes, generally those without previous criminal backgrounds, work with the U.S. Probation Service or another supervisor to create specialized programs focusing on their needs, which can include education and career development.

If Nkrumah completes her program, the U.S. Attorney’s office will pursue “no further criminal prosecution” in her case, according to court documents.

Nkrumah was accused last year of threatening, over a telephone, to destroy the Cathedral of Learning and Posvar Hall in April 2008.

Nkrumah’s program requires her to pay $8,000 in check form to the Pitt Police Department.

Nkrumah paid the first $4,400 last Friday and will pay $300 each month until March 12 of next year, according to court documents.

The payments are considered a form of restitution to the University, which is labeled a “victim” in Nkrumah’s court documents.

Margaret Philbin, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said Pitt told the U.S. Attorney’s Office that it cost Pitt $8,000 to respond to the threats of which Nkrumah is accused. Philban did not know who in the University provided the courts with that number, nor did Pitt spokesman John Fedele.

A secretary in Delaney’s office said he was in meetings yesterday and that his supervisors were unavailable for comment.

Nkrumah’s program also requires her to do 150 hours of community service, though it does not list where she must perform them or what type of service she must do.

It also says she must attend school or work, notify a supervisor if she moves, report to her supervisor as directed, and cannot violate any law.

By agreeing to participate in the program, Nkrumah did not say whether she was guilty or not guilty, but she signed a statement saying she was “accepting responsibility for your behavior.”

If Nkrumah doesn’t abide by the rules of her program, the U.S. Attorney’s Office can “re-initiate prosecution” of Nrkumah, meaning she could go to trial.

Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs Robert Hill said in a statement, “The University believes that the resolution is appropriate. It sends the message that … the University will devote resources to investigate these crimes.”

Nkrumah did not respond to requests for comment late yesterday, nor did her attorney, Cynthia Reed Eddy.

Probation Officer Eric Bossart, who is listed in Nkrumah’s court documents, did not respond to requests for comment, either.

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