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U.S. ends webcam probe; no charges


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Federal prosecutors on Tuesday closed their investigation into Lower Merion School District's secret use of software to track student laptops, saying they found no evidence that anyone intentionally committed a crime.

The decision, announced by U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger, ended a six-month probe by the FBI into allegations that district employees might have spied on students through webcams on their school-issued laptops.

In a brief statement released by his office, Memeger didn't disclose details of the investigation, but said agents and prosecutors concluded that charges were unwarranted.

"For the government to prosecute a criminal case, it must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person charged acted with criminal intent," his statement said. "We have not found evidence that would establish beyond a reasonable doubt that anyone involved had criminal intent."

The announcement represented an unusual step for federal investigators. The FBI and U.S. Attorneys' offices rarely acknowledge when they begin or end a criminal inquiry.

Memeger's predecessor, Michael Levy, disclosed the probe in February because of the community interest and visibility in the allegations, he said at the time. Memeger's announcement on Tuesday was intended "to close at least one part of this matter" before the new school year opens, he said.

His decision came a day after the Lower Merion School Board adopted new policies governing how, when and why staff will track the take-home laptops Lower Merion issues to every high school student.

Henry E. Hockeimer Jr., a lawyer for the school district, welcomed the news.

"The district is certainly gratified that after a hard look into this matter, the FBI and United States Attorney have concluded that no criminal conduct occurred," Hockeimer said.

Update on the student laptop spying case.
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