Crime and Justice

Plea deal filed for South Burlington school threat suspect

BURLINGTON — Josiah Leach, the teenager accused of making threats against fellow South Burlington High School students and teachers, has reached a plea agreement, court filings indicate.

Leach was arrested in April after a series of escalating threats through a web of email accounts, Facebook and a phone call. The threats led to three days of lockdowns at the high school and a one-day cancellation of classes districtwide.

Josiah Leach

A photo of Josiah Leach from his public Facebook page. He is charged with making a series of escalating threats against the lives of fellow students and teachers at South Burlington High School.

Leach faces a felony charge in federal court of “knowingly transmitting in interstate commerce a communication that includes a threat to injure the person or another.” The charge carries up to a five-year prison sentence and up to a $250,000 fine.

The plea agreement was filed Monday in U.S. District Court, but its terms are not yet public. District Judge Geoffrey Crawford is expected to rule on the acceptability of the deal at a Friday change of plea hearing.

Prosecutors have presented no evidence that Leach was preparing to act on the threats.

Leach was jailed for several days pending his arraignment in April and again for several days in May after prosecutors argued he violated his terms of release by using the internet.

In a court filing, federal prosecutors wrote that Leach told police “he felt he had been treated as a joke and wanted others to feel the same way,” which is as close to a motive that any law enforcement official has provided.

The threats involved statements about bringing guns and knives to the school. One email sent to staff at the high school threatened the lives of five teachers and 11 students listed by name.

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Morgan True

About Morgan

Morgan True is VTDigger's Burlington bureau chief covering the city and Chittenden County. A Seattle native, he graduated from Boston University with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism before working for several publications in Massachusetts. He came to VTDigger in December 2013 from The Brockton Daily Enterprise, where he covered government, schools and hospitals in a city of about 100,000 people. Before joining The Enterprise, he worked for The Associated Press in Concord, N.H., where he served as a relief reporter in the Statehouse. He previously worked for The Quincy (Mass.) Patriot Ledger and as an intern at the Worcester (Mass.) Telegram & Gazette.

Email: [email protected]

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