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.

Fake explosive device found in a carry on bag at Newark Liberty Int. Airport
Fake explosive device found in a carry on bag at Newark Liberty Int. Airport (TSA)

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.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ.

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