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Federal prosecutors, defense attorneys look for agreement in school threat case
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Federal prosecutors, defense attorneys look for agreement in school threat case

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Federal prosecutors are working on a possible plea agreement with the attorneys of a former Charlottesville man charged this summer with threatening to blow up city schools if teachers were forced to go back into the classroom this fall.

Lucas Isaiah Newton-Grant, 27, of Rancho Mirage, California, the son of a local school teacher, is currently free on $10,000 unsecured bond, granted by the court at an Aug. 11 hearing, according to records in the U.S. District Court, Western District of Virginia.

Newton-Grant was slated to be indicted by Aug. 27 on the charge of communicating interstate threats, but a federal judge granted a request from both the U.S. District Attorney’s office and Newton-Grant’s attorney to continue the indictment requirement until Sept. 23.

The additional time will give the two sides a chance to come to an agreement on the charge and a plea without needing to take the case to trial, records filed with the court show.

“The parties in this case are currently exploring whether a pre-indictment disposition can be achieved. However, the parties need additional time to determine whether such a disposition is feasible,” Ronald M. Huber, assistant U.S. Attorney wrote in the request.

“Extending the time period in which to file an indictment against the defendant would be in the best interests of justice, as it would give the parties sufficient time to evaluate the evidence and engage in plea negotiations, and may avoid the need for a trial,” he wrote.

Newton-Grant was arrested in California on July 28. Federal officials said that on July 7, as Charlottesville school officials discussed re-opening this fall after closing in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Newton-Grant posted on his Facebook that he would become the next ‘serial bomber’ and wanted to ‘blow those buildings up.’

Similar posts continued for 12 days, even after others on Facebook, including his mother, warned him not to make threatening statements, records show.

When warned by others on social media about making threats, Newton-Grant responded with ‘I want them to come after me. They’ll be in for a pleasant surprise’ and posting that ‘people will (expletive deleted) die,’ court records show.

Charlottesville police were made aware of the posts on July 8, and the department notified other law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, by putting out a bulletin.

The FBI monitored Newton-Grant’s page and sought his arrest after an anonymous tipster contacted the agency in California on July 19. That tipster told agents Newton-Grant was “a very unstable individual and very likely and capable of carrying out such attacks,” the records show.

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