A North Carolina teenager whose mother claimed he was unfairly detained under the USA Patriot Act was indicted on federal charges last week over accusations that he made Internet-based bomb threats to colleges, universities and high schools.
Ashton Lundeby, 16, of Oxford, N.C., and three unnamed co-conspirators were fingered in an indictment unsealed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Indiana, according to WRAL-TV of Raleigh. N.C.
Prosecutors allege that Lundeby, known online as "Tyrone," used Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) software to place telephone calls to Purdue University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Clemson University and Florida State University to make bomb threats.
Special computer software prevented authorities from tracing back the calls, and Lundeby's fans would gather in Web chat rooms to follow his exploits live.
In the Purdue case, they watched the West Lafayette, Ind., campus evacuate via on-campus Web cams.
Lundeby also had a side business as a threatener-for-hire, the authorities allege. Other teenagers would pay him a small fee to call in bomb threats to their high schools, canceling classes for the day.
After Lundeby was arrested in March, his mother, Annette Lundeby, told WRAL-TV that he was a model student with American flags all over his room, that he was innocent of the charges and that the government had violated the Constitution by taking him into custody.
Ashton Lundeby quickly became a cause celebre on the Internet, with bloggers on both the left and right holding him up as a victim of a heavy-handed government.
But an investigation by Wired News quickly revealed that Annette Lundeby was aware of her son's prank calls and bomb threats, which she thought were "really funny."
"We're fighting it all the way to the Supreme Court," Annette Lundeby told a local newspaper when asked about her son's indictment, according to WRAL-TV.