Pitt threat suspect: 'I've lost everything'
LOVELAND, Ohio — The man accused of threatening University of Pittsburgh administrators with releasing confidential information denied the charges on Thursday and said the federal investigation cost him his job and likely will cost him his apartment.
“I've lost everything — my job. This is going to be next,” said Alexander Thomas Waterland, 24, gesturing to his apartment during a brief interview in this Cincinnati suburb.
His girlfriend is due to give birth to their son in about a month. Waterland said his priority is finding another job.
He said he doesn't know why the FBI thinks he made the threats.
“I haven't the slightest clue,” Waterland said. “I never went to Pitt. I don't know anybody who goes to Pitt. I don't know anybody who lives at Pitt.”
He declined to say more, saying he wants to talk to his lawyer first.
The FBI arrested Waterland on Wednesday on charges that he posted a YouTube video on April 26 that threatened to release personal data stolen from the school unless Chancellor Mark Nordenberg apologized for failing to safeguard student welfare during spring semester bomb scares.
Bomb threats written on walls and emailed to news outlets prompted 150 evacuations on the Oakland campus during six weeks, beginning in February. The video was posted five days after the last bomb threat against Pitt, which denied that any hacker had compromised personal information, as the video claimed.
Waterland faces a June 27 hearing in Pittsburgh on charges of making interstate threats and using a computer to make the threats. He said he retained an Ohio attorney a couple of days ago but needs one who can represent him in Pennsylvania.
Prosecutors would not say whether they suspect Waterland was involved in the bomb threats, which threw student and academic life on campus into turmoil.
Waterland said his first contact with the FBI was a couple of months ago — he's unsure of the date — when agents seized a “Wi-Fi device” from his former employer, Express Scripts, where he worked in an IT job. About a month ago, FBI agents searched his apartment and seized computer equipment.
“I have yet to understand” why the investigation moved from Express Scripts to him, Waterland said.
The FBI said Waterland erased the hard drive of his desktop computer but left evidence on two other computers and two smartphones to connect him to the video, posted by the YouTube user “AnonOperative13,” an apparent reference to the hacking group Anonymous.
Express Scripts spokesman Brian Henry said the company no longer employs Waterland and is cooperating with investigators. A security guard asked a reporter to leave the property in an industrial park near Loveland.
Mike Wereschagin is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.