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Dropout status led to bomb threat, police say

June 22, 2007|Sara Lin | Times Staff Writer

A former UC Riverside student threatened to bomb a graduation ceremony, hoping it would be canceled, in order to keep his parents from discovering that he had dropped out of school, investigators allege in court records.

Audley Yung, 22, told his mother that he was scheduled to graduate last weekend, prompting her to drive from Richmond, Calif., to attend, according to an affidavit filed this week by UC Riverside Police Det. Jessie Orona. But Yung last attended the university in summer 2006 and did not have enough credits to graduate, university officials said.

Yung then sent a letter and two e-mails to university administrators threatening to set off several improvised explosive devices during a commencement planned for June 15, court records show. He hoped university officials would cancel the weekend graduation ceremonies, giving him an excuse not to attend.

"Then his Mother would return home and everything would be as it once was," Orona wrote in the affidavit.

To prove he was serious, Yung tried to set off a homemade bomb near an outdoor mall where the graduation ceremony for the A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management was to take place, police said.

Yung filled a wine bottle with gasoline, stuffed a wick into the top and taped drywall screws around the bottle to act as shrapnel, the affidavit alleges. At about 5:50 a.m. on June 15, Yung allegedly placed the bomb next to a palm tree growing in a planter, doused the tree with gasoline and set it on fire.

Firefighters and police responding to the fire reportedly found the bomb and a second plastic bottle nearby that also contained gasoline.

UC Riverside police said they began to suspect Yung was involved after he directed a campus parking officer to a stack of photocopied threatening letters next to a campus bookstore that referred to the arson incident.

Yung later confessed to building the bomb, setting the tree on fire and sending threatening letters and e-mails to the university, the affidavit alleges.

Investigators later searched Yung's apartment and discovered a letter he'd allegedly written stating his hatred of all rich white and Chinese kids, and that he was going to kill them all.

Yung's "true mind set was to injure or otherwise harm innocent people," Orona wrote.

Yung was charged Tuesday with six felony counts, including possession of an explosive device; arson; having materials to build an arson device; and making criminal threats against university Chancellor France A. Cordova, said Ingrid Wyatt, spokeswoman for the Riverside County district attorney's office.

Yung was also charged with false impersonation for trying to frame someone else for the bomb, Wyatt said. He faces a minimum of three years in state prison.

Yung posted bail and was released from custody at 3 p.m. Wednesday, according to Riverside County Sheriff's Department officials.

Yung's case is similar to an incident two years ago in which a man called in a bomb threat against UC Irvine's medical school graduation so that he wouldn't have to tell his parents he had never enrolled.

Amit Kumar Sinha, 30, was arrested by Irvine police in June 2005 after he set a library trash can on fire on graduation day and threatened to bomb the ceremony.

"From what I remember, the guy was trying to get the ceremony canceled so his parents wouldn't know that he didn't go to medical school," said Tom Vasich, a UC Irvine spokesman.

When the graduation went forward as planned, Sinha donned a cap and gown and prepared to march with about 90 medical school graduates. But several students didn't recognize Sinha and alerted campus police.

Sinha pleaded guilty to making a false bomb threat in August 2005 and received three years' probation and a stayed sentence of one year in jail, prosecutors said.

sara.lin@latimes.com

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