Former UVa Student Pleads Guilty to Extortion

By: Lisa Ferrari
By: Lisa Ferrari

October 17, 2005

Justice has finally been served in the case of a former University of Virginia Ph.D. student accused of sending threatening letters to 50 university officials.

About a year and a half ago Charles Bly sent a 10-page letter that included pictures of target practice and mentions of high powered rifles.

Bly pleaded guilty to extortion in federal court in Charlottesville Monday.

He says he sent those threatening letters because he was wrongfully terminated from a doctorate program at UVa and because another professor he says stole his research.

Bly, a 52-year-old former nuclear engineering student, will most likely only spend a few more months in prison.

Monday he pleaded guilty to sending a threatening letter in January 2004. The letter went to 50 people including UVa president John Casteen and Virginia Governor Mark Warner.

“The last of which included some bull’s eye targets [that] had been shot out and he references in the letter the targets as evidence of his ability as a marksman to resolve disputes,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Heaphy.

In the letter Bly said, "a person of my modest means and ability can stand at a distance of two football fields and end elements of a long standing dispute with the twitch of my index finger."

“In the letter he asks for over a half million dollars compensation for lost wages and pain and suffering and he asks to be reinstated,” said Heaphy

Bly entered a guilty plea Monday, and as part of the plea agreement, Bly cannot have contact with anyone he has written a letter to and he can not possess a firearm. Bly owns a collection of guns and he told the court today that he would not possess those firearms but he would continue to own them.

Bly's sentencing is set for February 2006. His attorney is seeking time served plus about 18 months additional home confinement.


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