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UPDATE: 9/11 bomb scare suspect paid cash for flight

Thursday, September 15, 2011 | 7:01 p.m. CDT

KANSAS CITY — A Pennsylvania man accused of trying to take a fake bomb through security at Kansas City International Airport on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks paid cash for his airline ticket less than two hours before departure, an FBI agent said Thursday.

Anthony Falco, 47, of East Petersburg, Pa., is also accused of making statements that led federal agents to believe he had a bomb in his carry-on baggage. Falco was taken into custody Sunday after security screeners noticed something suspicious in his carry-on bag as it went through an X-ray machine.

At a detention hearing Thursday morning, Falco's public defender, Laine Cardarella, noted that nothing in Falco's luggage was illegal to take onto a plane. She said her client's car broke down and he booked a flight at the last minute because he wanted to get back home.

U.S. Magistrate Sarah Hays was expected to rule later Thursday on whether prosecutors have enough evidence to formally charge Falco, and if so, whether he should be held or released on bond.

Falco appeared in court in an orange jump suit with a dark, long-sleeve shirt underneath. His hands and ankles were shackled, and he spent much of the hearing leaning back in his chair as attorneys made their cases.

Jonathan Tucker, a bomb technician with the Joint Terrorism Task Force, said packages inside Falco's baggage had all the earmarks of an improvised explosive device, including wires and power sources. The packages also were over-taped, Tucker said, another common attribute of homemade bombs.

Tucker said he and seven other bomb experts looked at an X-ray photo of the packages and all thought it could be a bomb.

Investigators said Falco refused to give permission for them to open his packages, and made threatening statements about what would happen if they were opened, Tucker said.

Cardarella said Falco simply didn't want anyone going through his baggage and told screeners he didn't want to go on the flight if it meant his bags had to be searched.

Thursday's hearing began with Falco's attorney telling Hays that a pretrial report listing previous criminal offenses for her client was wrong, and that he has no prior convictions. Hays said she'd have to see evidence that disproved the claims on the report, which wasn't immediately available to the media.

Tucker also testified that Falco's mother and another man told him Falco had spent more than nine months in a mental health facility.

A large portion of one of the three terminals at the airport was closed for several hours Sunday while law enforcement searched the terminal and examined the suspicious packages, which contained electronics such as cellphones, digital cameras, wires, a large clock and an iPod. At least two flights were canceled and many others were delayed.

 


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