It was clear from the start that the government’s “bioterror” case against Buffalo artist Steve Kurtz was BS. Now, even federal prosecutors are admitting that the charges are bogus.
Last month, FBI agents quarantined the biotech-inspired artist’s home – and confiscated his recently-dead wife’s corpse — on terror suspicions. But on Tuesday, a federal grand jury in Buffalo charged Kurtz instead with a minor infraction, petty larceny, according to his supporters. No bioterror allegations were made.
Also indicted was Robert Ferrell, head of the Department of Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Public Health. The charges concern technicalities of how Ferrell helped Kurtz to obtain $256 worth of harmless bacteria for one of Kurtz’s art projects.
The laws under which the indictments were obtained–Title 18, United States Code, sections 1341 and 1343, covering mail and wire fraud–are normally used against those defrauding others of money or property, as in telemarketing schemes.
“Regardless of the plans these two men had for these materials, we can’t allow people to buy and distribute bacterial agents like this under false pretenses,” U.S. Attorney Michael Battle told the Buffalo News. It’s not a case of terrorism, but it’s a case of mail fraud.”