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Former Buff State student gets 30 months for making threats

A series of threats to faculty and staff at SUNY Buffalo State is sending a former graduate student to federal prison.

Benjamin Bolton, 32, of Glendale, Colorado, had previously admitted making 10 separate telephone calls threatening teachers, staff members and campus police officers during the summer last year.

Bolton, who has been in custody for months, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of transmitting interstate communications containing threats and was sentenced Monday to 30 months in prison.

"I listened to those phone calls myself and they are chilling," said U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo.

Vilardo said the victims were understandably scared, a consequence the prosecutor handling the case stressed during her plea for a longer prison sentence.

"We live in a post-Columbine, post-Sandy Hook environment," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Lamarque. "I can't overstate the impact this has had on the victims."

Suspended from Buffalo State in April of 2014 as a result of disputes with his teachers, Bolton made phone calls to faculty and staff that threatened their safety.

"I don't want to be that guy," Bolton said Monday. "I don't want that perception of myself."

Bolton acknowledged his mental health problems, as well as his alcohol and drug abuse, but said he never intended to act on his threats.

Vilardo said his sentence reflects Bolton's previous criminal history and the serious nature of his threats, but also allows for the mental health and substance abuse counseling he needs.

"Ben Bolton is a bright man whose life has been checkered because of the demons he faces," defense lawyer Herbert L. Greenman told Vilardo at one point Monday. "Self medicating is what helped put him where he is today."

Bolton's sentence is the result of an investigation by the FBI and the Buffalo State University Police Department.


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