Students released from jail on own recognizance

Two Carnegie Mellon students ended their stay in the Allegheny County Jail last week after being held for breaking into Heinz Field amid threats of terrorist attacks on NFL stadiums.

Anand Durvasula, a junior in economics and social and decision sciences, and Sudeep Paul, a senior in business administration and economics, were freed from jail last Wednesday after a three-day incarceration.

Police apprehended Durvasula and Paul at stadium Gate 5 last Sunday morning, hours before the Pittsburgh Steelers were scheduled to play the Denver Broncos at the stadium.

District Magistrate Gene Riccardi initially set the bond at $1 million for each student without consulting the U.S. district attorney or the Joint Terrorism Task Force, according to a November 9 article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The task force assisted in searching the silver Lexus SUV the men drove to the stadium and were called in because of last month’s online threat to seven NFL stadiums.

At their bond hearing last Wednesday, the district attorney’s office concluded after consulting with the FBI that the students were not a threat.

Common Pleas Judge Cheryl Allen eliminated each man’s $1 million bond after she ruled that they were not a threat to homeland security.

Durvasula and Paul were released on their own recognizance, the Post-Gazette reported. This means they were set free without having to pay the bond and are required to reappear at their future court date.

According to Caroline Roberto, Paul’s attorney, the charges against Durvasula and Paul remain. Durvasula has been charged with criminal conspiracy, and Paul has been charged with criminal trespassing.

“All of law enforcement agreed this was a simple trespass and not what they thought it was Sunday morning,” Roberto said.

Bill Ward, Durvasula’s attorney, declined to comment on the pending case.

Paul is a member of the Undergraduate Finance Association. The club’s president, Ramzi Ramsey, a senior in business administration, stated in an e-mail that Paul is glad to be back to school and that his main worry is catching up on the schoolwork he missed last week.

“Although the police response was a bit heavy, it is to be expected in times like this,” Ramsey stated.

Durvasula is a member of the Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Association and the chairman of the Tepper Venture Challenge.

Both students are members of Carnegie Mellon University Mock Trial.

Neither student was available for comment.

According to the Post-Gazette article, the men’s attorneys presented the judge with letters from the University stating that they were both welcome back as students in good standing.

“While it is my prerogative to review cases in which students have been convicted in the public courts of certain serious crimes, this matter does not warrant any judicial review at this time,” stated Dean of Student Affairs Jennifer Church in an e-mail, referring to disciplinary activity on the University’s part.

Church stated that she was relieved to learn that Durvasula and Paul would be able to resume their studies.
“I trust that they have found the Carnegie Mellon community to be helpful to them during this time,” Church stated.

Both students are required to appear at a preliminary hearing on November 29.