Closing the Book on Gates Extortion

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SEATTLE: Some advice for budding novelists: Don’t write to the world’s richest man and threaten his life. That’s what office worker and aspiring writer Adam Quinn Pletcher did, and it cost him $250,000 and a possible 20 years in prison after he was found guilty on four counts of extortion Tuesday. “What I am offering is simple,” Pletcher, 22, wrote Microsoft boss Bill Gates. “Your life for $5 million.” His letters went on to threaten harm to Gates, his wife, his daughter and colleague Steve Ballmer. In the chat room tradition, Pletcher posed as a 34-year-old ex-Army Ranger with a 100 percent kill rate.

“It became almost a kind of interactive story,” Pletcher testified in his trial. “It was actually happening as I wrote it.” He added that the letters were to form the basis of a novel inspired by that great Stallone turkey, “Assassins” -- and that the money would help him open a teetotal nightclub. From now on Pletcher will have to use prison gates, not Bill Gates, for his inspiration.