"Dr. Butler, your reaction to the verdict?," a reporter asked. "No comment!," his wife tersely quipped.
A protective spouse, a furrowed brow, a crest-fallen son on his right arm, Dr. Thomas Butler left the federal courthouse in silence after a jury returned a see-saw verdict. "We're disappointed he wasn't acquitted of all the charges, we are pleased that they acquitted him of a number of them," said Defense Attorney Chuck Meadows.
The breakdown? Of the 69 charges, Butler was found guilty of 47 offenses, including theft, embezzlement, mail fraud, wire fraud, and the unauthorized export of plague to Tanzania.
|Timeline of Events Leading To Verdict In Trial Of Dr. Thomas Butler|
Butler's good news? He found not guilty of smuggling in the plague, filing a fake tax return, and perhaps most importantly, not lying to the FBI about the missing plague vials - the keystone issue of the entire case. "We are particularly pleased that the jury apparently found that Tom did not commit any hoax or commit any crime in reporting the missing vials of plague," said Meadows.
A substantial yet ironically hollow victory, given the Pandora's box of Butler's illegal business dealings that came to light due to the initial charge. "Those shadow contracts were intentional violations of the law, certainly not covered by good faith," said Federal Attorney Dick Baker. Prosecutors celebrated the 70/30 conviction rate. "We are very grateful that the jury saw the case in the same light that we did," said Baker.
Meanwhile, defense attorneys directed the spotlight away from Butler's convictions as a thief and embezzler. "The original charges against Butler was that he was a disgruntled employee that tried to perpetrate a hoax on Lubbock. The jury found that he didn't do that," stated Meadows.
The judge is expected to take approximately 45 days before handing down a sentence.