For second time, FBI seizes records in Pitt bomb threat probe
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A Cambria County couple intertwined in the University of Pittsburgh bomb threat investigation said FBI agents and police officers with a search warrant seized items from their home for a second time this week, taking handwritten notes, educational records, drafts of a lawsuit and a cell phone on Friday.
Seamus Johnston, 22, said he was chatting on the phone with a friend when more than a half-dozen investigators arrived at the couple's Jackson home and he thought, "Not again, not again, please God."
Mr. Johnston and his partner, Katherine Anne McCloskey, 56, have denied any involvement with the dozens of threats that have prompted more than 130 building evacuations since mid-March.
A search warrant signed by U.S. Magistrate Judge Maureen P. Kelly at 5 p.m. on Thursday allowed agents to seize evidence of violations of two federal statutes -- one that governs interstate communications and another that involves conspiracy. Items that could be considered as evidence were:
• All files or documents that, in whatever format, contained any reference to bomb threats, animus or motive to threaten the University of Pittsburgh or any individuals, including those associated with the school.
• All handwritten documents that would constitute exemplars for comparison to bomb threats written on walls in buildings at the University of Pittsburgh.
• Any documents indicating that Seamus Johnston and his partner have been in the Pittsburgh area since January.
Mr. Johnston said FBI agents first visited the transgender couple's home a little more than a week ago to interview them. They were subsequently subpoenaed to testify and provide handwriting samples and fingerprints to a federal grand jury investigating the threats on Tuesday.
A judge considered holding them in contempt of court after Mr. Johnston asked to see a warrant before supplying the samples. He and Ms. McCloskey later agreed to provide the samples and are scheduled to do so at the federal building on Friday, Ms. McCloskey said.
A day after their grand jury appearances, federal agents with a search warrant seized a personal computer, laptop, cell phone, computer router and some CDs from the couple's apartment, the couple said.
FBI agents in New York City also seized this week a server used by an Internet service provider in Europe through which at least three of the anonymous email bomb threats passed, according to the company that hosts the server.
Most court documents pertaining to the investigation remain under seal.
Mr. Johnston said he was told he and Ms. McCloskey are persons of interest because he has clashed with the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown.
Mr. Johnston, who was born a woman but identifies as a man, studied computer science at the school until January, when he was expelled after being arrested for repeatedly using the men's locker room despite being told not to do so.
Pitt had told Mr. Johnston he could use a private locker room, which he did for a short time before he began using the men's facilities again.
Mr. Johnston is awaiting trial on three misdemeanor charges of indecent exposure, defiant trespass and disorderly conduct that were filed by Pitt police.
This week, he filed a complaint with the Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations, alleging that Pitt violated the city code that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex and handicap.
In May, the Social Security Administration labeled Mr. Johnston as fully disabled "for a variety of emotional liabilities that included gender identity disorder."
A University of Pittsburgh spokesman said he does not believe the school discriminated against Mr. Johnston.
First Published April 21, 2012 4:47 pm