Port Authority wants TV crew fully prosecuted after ‘fake bomb’
NEWARK — The Port Authority wants prosecutors to aggressively pursue criminal charges against nine members of a production crew working on a CNBC show authorities say tried to get a fake bomb through a security checkpoint at Newark Liberty International Airport.
In a letter obtained by NJ.com, Chairman Kevin J. O'Toole and Executive Director Rick Cotton told the Essex County Prosecutor's Office the crew's actions were serious and intolerable.
"These actions took forethought and planning and coordination; they should be punished in a forceful manner," they wrote.
A number of law enforcement officers from the FBI and Port Authority had to respond to the threat in the airport's Terminal C, which O'Toole and Cotton said was a waste of resources.
On Jan. 18, TSA agents detected a device in a carry-on bag belonging to one member of Endemol Shine North America’s crew working on an upcoming CNBC show called "Staten Island Hustle." Endemol said the device, which included a motor, wires, and PVC pipes, was actually vacuum compression luggage. It is designed to make more room in suitcases for clothes, the group said.
The nine individuals were arrested by Port Authority Police and charged with creating a false public alarm, interference with transportation, and conspiracy, and released pending a court appearance. Tom Carter, TSA’s Federal Security Director for New Jersey, compared the stunt to yelling "fire" in a theater.
In a statement, Endemol called the incident a "misunderstanding" and "regretted any inconvenience to TSA and other authorities on the ground for complications that may have been caused."
Those charged face possible civil penalties from the TSA which carry fines of over $13,000 for each violation of security regulations.