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Three Weeks After Hearing, Bomb-Threat Suspect Still Awaits Formal Indictment

Attorney says University will likely be treated as victim in the case

A courtroom sketch by freelance artist Jane F. Collins depicts, from left to right, private defense attorney Allison D. Burroughs, supect Eldo Kim ’16, public defender Ian Gold, and U.S. Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein during Kim’s pretrial hearing Wednesday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Boston.
A courtroom sketch by freelance artist Jane F. Collins depicts, from left to right, private defense attorney Allison D. Burroughs, supect Eldo Kim ’16, public defender Ian Gold, and U.S. Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein during Kim’s pretrial hearing Wednesday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Boston. By Courtesy of Jane F. Collins
By John P. Finnegan, Crimson Staff Writer

UPDATED: January 14, 2014, at 3:17 p.m.

Eldo Kim ’16 was released from federal custody on Dec. 18, but the Harvard sophomore charged in connection with a finals period bomb scare that put Harvard on high alert continues to await a formal grand jury indictment, his attorney Allison D. Burroughs said this week.

According to Burroughs, after Kim was “charged by complaint” and arrested on Dec. 17 for allegedly sending several emails the day before saying that he had placed bombs in two of four campus buildings, the U.S. government is allowed thirty days to lodge formal charges via a grand jury.

Burroughs said that the delay in Kim’s case was not out of the ordinary or the result of any party’s inaction, but simply the usual proceeding in cases like this.

“It’s like a train that hasn’t reached the next station,” Burroughs said in a phone interview on Monday.

If convicted under the federal bomb hoax statute, Kim could be sentenced to up to five years of imprisonment, three years of probationary release, and a $250,000 fine, though a federal prosecutor said during the Dec. 18 pretrial hearing that the prosecution was working with Kim’s lawyers to explore alternatives to detention.

Kim was released from custody after the hearing, as he and two court-appointed guardians, his sister and uncle, co-signed a $100,000 bail bond. He will not be required to pay any part of the bond unless he violates the terms of that release, which included not returning to Harvard’s campus without the express permission of the University and the accompaniment of one of his guardians as well as that he remain in Massachusetts.

While Burroughs would not confirm Kim’s current whereabouts or whether he had returned to Harvard’s campus to retrieve his belongings, she said that “to the extent that [Kim] has wanted access, [Harvard administrators] have granted it.”

Burroughs praised Harvard’s conduct in the proceedings thus far, calling the University’s actions involving Kim “quite fair and reasonable.”

As for what formal role the University will ultimately play, Burroughs said that due to the preliminary nature of the proceedings it is still unclear how Harvard will fit into the process, though she added that she thought the University would likely be treated as a victim in the case, entitling it to certain notifications as the case proceeded.

“There isn’t really a role for them at this point,” she said, adding that “the only person who has a role right now is the government.”

Burroughs said that her “understanding is that once the criminal case is resolved, Harvard will take its own disciplinary actions.” Such action would likely come in the form of a case in the College’s Administrative Board. A spokesperson for the College declined to comment on the matter.

Federal public defender Ian Gold, who previously served as Kim's attorney, said in an interview with the Huffington Post in December that Kim had expressed remorse for his actions. Gold has subsequently ceased to represent Kim. Neither he nor the Boston U.S. District Attorney’s Office responded to repeated requests for comment for this article.

Kim was arrested on Dec. 17 after being interviewed by authorities in his Quincy House residence the night before. According to an affidavit filed by an FBI agent present for the interview, Kim said that he issued the Dec. 16 bomb threat—which was sent to the Harvard University Police Department, University administrators, and the president of The Crimson—to avoid a final examination.

Based on the affidavit, which states that Kim was scheduled to take an exam in Emerson Hall at 9 a.m. on Dec. 16, and on an email sent by Kim over the Quincy House email list on Dec. 14, Kim is thought to have been enrolled in Government 1368: “The Politics of American Education.” Government professor Paul E. Peterson, who teaches the course, declined to comment on the case.

The threat alleged that there were explosives placed in two of four campus buildings: the Science Center, as well as Emerson, Sever, and Thayer halls. All four buildings were evacuated and access to Harvard Yard restricted as local, state, and federal law enforcement swept campus. The evacuations meant that numerous final exams scheduled to take place in the buildings were rescheduled or cancelled.

After a roughly five-hour search, law enforcement officials declared the buildings safe, having found no explosives.

—Staff writer John P. Finnegan can be reached at finnegan@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @finneganspake.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction.

CORRECTION: Jan. 14, 2014

An earlier version of this story and the caption of the photo accompanying it incorrectly identified the employment status of the attorney currently representing Eldo Kim ’16. In fact, Allison D. Burroughs is an attorney in private practice not a public defender.

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