DA: Threats suspect to be tried by local authorities

A Claysburg man facing 14 criminal charges for using a Blair County Prison computer to allegedly send threats that resulted in the evacuation of the Blair County Courthouse and a shutdown of parts of the Hollidaysburg water system will not be prosecuted by federal authorities, according to District Attorney Richard A. Consiglio.

Consiglio revealed to county authorities last week that there could be a “dual prosecution” against the 23-year-old suspect, Adam C. Hardin, meaning Blair County would prosecute some of the charges and the federal government would handle the remainder of the case.

The Blair DA said federal authorities were looking with interest at prosecuting Hardin for threats against the local water system.

Consiglio briefly discussed the threats at a meeting of the Blair County Prison Board.

On Monday, Consiglio said he decided that the case against Hardin would remain in the Blair County Court of Common Pleas.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John J. Valkovci in Johnstown did not reveal the specifics of the discussions with Consiglio but confirmed there had been communication between state and federal prosecutors.

Valkovci said Tuesday, “It appeared at this time, based on the evidence developed to date, the Blair County district attorney will accept primary responsibility for the prosecution of the case.”

The veteran federal prosecutor said charges could be filed at both levels, but he said the Department of Justice policy is not to interfere with state prosecution unless there is some overriding federal interest in a particular situation.

Hardin, a farmhand, had 794 hours of computer training through the Army National Guard, Consiglio said.

Hardin was an inmate in the Blair County Prison, facing a charge of theft in late October when the threats were sent.

A state police computer expert, Trooper Todd Roby, testified during a preliminary hearing last week that a prison computer, used to aid inmates in their legal research, had been utilized to email threats to the Altoona Mirror and WTAJ-TV.

Those threats were reported to authorities.

Ten witnesses testified against Hardin during the preliminary hearing in the courtroom of Magisterial District Justice Paula Aigner.

Hardin remains in prison charged with four counts of making bomb threats, four counts of terroristic threats, three counts of criminal use of a communication facility, two counts of illegally using a computer and tampering with a public water system.

Consiglio told the prison board that extra levels of security have been added to the computers used by the inmates for their legal research.