The hi-tech industry and its personalities have become the latest victims of extortion and bomb threats, with Sun Microsystems and Microsoft?s Bill Gates both on the receiving end this week.
A 21-year old Illinois man, Adam Quinn Pletcher, was arrested on charges of threatening the life of the Microsoft chief executive as part of a plot to extort more than $5 million, while Sun Microsystems has been plagued by bomb threats, having to evacuate its staff four times last week.
Pletcher allegedly sent four letters to Gates threatening to harm his family unless the software billionaire coughed up $5 billion. The last letter told Gates to pay the money into a foreign bank account if he wanted "to avoid dying, among other things". Pletecher was arrested when FBI agents posed as Gates on an America Online bulletin board, the method of making contact chosen by Pletcher.
Katrina Plaufmer, attorney general for the western district of Washington, said: "The writer [of the letters] cautioned Gates not to notify law enforcement and that if Gates did so, the writer could kill him with ?one bullet from my rifle at a mile away."
Pletcher was indicted in Seattle on Wednesday and released on bail of $100,000. He faces arraignment on 22 May. If found guilty, he faces a $250,000 fine and the prospect of 20 years imprisonment.
In Silicon Valley, Sun Microsystems has had to clear its Milpitas offices on four occasions in the past week after police received anonymous phone calls warning that there was a bomb planted in one of the company?s nine buildings.
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