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Published: Monday, 4/28/2008

Ohio man accused of plotting school attack pleads not guilty

ASSOCIATED PRESS

CLEVELAND A man pleaded not guilty Monday to a charge accusing him of e-mailing an Indiana teenager about conducting a Columbine-style attack on two schools.

Lee Billi, 33, of the Cleveland suburb of Lakewood, made no comment during the hearing through a video hookup from jail. His attorney entered the plea on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder.

A Cuyahoga County Common Pleas judge set bond at $250,000.

Police in Lakewood have said they don't know how far along the two were in the alleged plan but said the two were talking about a Columbine-type plot, a reference to the 1999 massacre at a suburban Denver high school in which two students killed 12 classmates and a teacher before committing suicide.

Authorities said Billi and the teenager exchanged e-mails on April 20 and discussed mass murders at the same time at the teen's school near South Bend, Ind., and at another location, which police haven't identified.

A computer was removed from Billi's home in addition to computer disks, papers, books and three partial boxes of handgun ammunition, authorities said.

At the teen's home near downtown South Bend, authorities said they found more than 100 knives and several illegal snakes. The teen lived in his deceased grandfather's house in a rundown neighborhood scattered with vacant houses.

Authorities said a school officer investigating an unrelated threat at the teen's school, Penn High, discovered Internet postings in which the teen discussed his support for the Columbine shooters. The teen was questioned about his postings and school officials learned he had exchanged e-mails with an unidentified person, authorities said.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com



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