Ahead of sentencing, US Attorney's Office recommends Leach be sentenced to 5 years probation

BURLINGTON, Vt. - The teenager who plead guilty to sending death threats that lead to several days of lockdowns last spring at South Burlington High School will be sentenced next week.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office and Josiah Leach’s defense attorney are recommending Leach, 19, of South Burlington, be sentenced to 5 years probation.

In October, he changed his plea to guilty for sending the threats, including a kill list, to students and staff at SBHS, where he was a student.

Leach has been in jail since mid-November after, prosecutors say, he violated the conditions of his release when he set off stink bombs at the Howard Center.

This was the second time he was accused of violating the conditions of release.

Prosecutors say, after he was released from jail following his initial arrest, Leach used the internet to commandeer the Facebook page of another person and post a false confession.

In the United States’ sentencing memorandum, Assistant United States Attorney Michael Drescher calls Leach’s crimes “humiliating and terrifying,” and “few crimes in this district have affected as many people.”

According to the memo, both the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Leach’s public defender, Elizabeth Quinn, agree a punishment of five years of probation reflects Leach’s age, the nature of the crime and his upbringing, due to the lack of constructive parental oversight in his life.

If Leach were to violate the terms of his probation, he could face up to five years in prison.

Leach will be sentenced by Judge Geoffrey Crawford next Tuesday in Rutland.

The South Burlington School District estimates it lost $300,000 because of Leach’s actions last spring, according to the memo.

At Tuesday night’s South Burlington School Board meeting, Chair Elizabeth Fitzgerald said the school provided the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Probation Officer with a written statement detailing the “significant practical, emotional and financial impact on students, staff and parents.”

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