TV crew arrested with fake bomb at Newark Liberty Airport
NEWARK — Nine members of a TV crew were arrested Thursday night as they filmed themselves trying to get a fake explosive device through a Newark Liberty International Airport security checkpoint.
Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said TSA agents detected the device in a carry-on bag in the airport's Terminal C as the crew secretly recorded the incident on video. The device included a motor, wires and PVC pipes, which are all indicators of an improvised explosive device such as a pipe bomb, according to the TSA.
The nine 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.
They face possible civil penalties from the TSA, which carry fines of over $13,000 for each violation of TSA security regulations.
Tom Carter, TSA’s Federal Security Director for New Jersey compared the stunt to yelling fire in a theater.
"There is simply no excuse for trying to do something like this knowing it had the great potential to cause panic with the intention of turning that panic into a reality show. The reality is that all of these individuals were arrested and face heavy civil penalties as well," Carter said.
The nine charged were:
- Ruben M. Montenegro, 44, Barclay Avenue, Staten Island
- Samuel Micah Berns, 39, Magnolia Boulevard, Hollywood, California
- Jacob M. Towsley, 34, East Koy Road, Portageville, New York
- Michael L. Palmer, 51, McBaine Avenue, Staten Island
- William Oaks, 36, Lewis Avenue, Brooklyn
- Philip K. Nakagami, 26, Regent Street, Jersey City
- Carlos F. Gonzalez, 33, 32nd Street, Queens
- Timothy S. Duffy, 34, Village Lane, Sparta
- Adolfo Lacola, 51, Drew Court, Staten Island
CBS New York, citing unnamed sources, reported the crew works for the production company Endemol Shine North America, and was recording a segment for the upcoming CNBC series "Staten Island Hustle."
The show, scheduled to debut in the spring, centers on "a group of animated, life-long friends and businessmen from Staten Island who've yet to come up with an idea or product too far-fetched for them to invest in," according to a release from CNBC.
Endemol also produces "Big Brother" for CBS, "Master Chef" on Fox, and the syndicated series "Page Six."
In a statement, Endemol said the device is a "specially designed suitcase" used to compact clothing and "has no other intended use."
Terminal C is home to United Airlines, among other carriers.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.
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