Feds seek to forcibly medicate defendant for trial

Saturday, December 15, 2012 | 3:45 p.m. CST

KANSAS CITY — Federal prosecutors have asked a judge to consider involuntarily medicating a man accused of bringing fake explosives into Kansas City International Airport on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Anthony Falco Jr., 48, was taken into custody on Sept. 11, 2011, after an X-ray machine detected suspicious items in his bag and security officers asked if they could examine it. Falco refused, made threatening statements and tried to leave before he was detained.

Since then, amid several continuances of court dates, Falco has undergone two mental health examinations and was found both times to be incompetent to stand trial. He has not been found to be a danger to himself or others, so he can't be involuntarily committed to a mental institution.

In a motion filed earlier this month, federal prosecutors argued that the only way his case can go to trial is if a judge orders him to be involuntarily medicated, citing a 2003 case.

An FBI bomb technician said in an affidavit that Falco's baggage had all the earmarks of an improvised explosive device, including wires and power sources. The agent said he and seven other bomb experts looked at an X-ray photo of the packages and all thought there was a bomb.

Falco, he said, warned them of what would happen if they opened the bag.

"During the K-9 sweep ... Falco began to chant Bible verses and began to appear to pray, saying, 'Father God America is going to go down,' " the FBI agent said. "He continued to say words similar to, 'You guys are going to be sorry if you open those packages.' "

The bomb squad later determined there were no explosives. Falco's last known address was East Petersburg, Pa.

A June 6 report stated Falco suffers from schizophrenia and that he remained "acutely psychotic." However, neither that report nor a November report following his second mental exam concluded Falco was a substantial risk to harm others or do serious property damage.

Prosecutors said Falco has refused to take medication — his mother told investigators that he had quit taking his meds at the time of the airport incident — that would help him become competent enough to stand trial.

In their Dec. 7 motion, prosecutors said Falco meets the four requirements laid out in a landmark 2003 St. Louis case that strictly limits when a defendant can be involuntarily medicated to stand trial.

Those requirements are: The government must have substantial interest in timely prosecution of a defendant; involuntary medication will "significantly further" the government's interests and is likely to make the defendant competent to stand trial without side effects that would interfere with the ability to assist in the defense; involuntary medication is necessary to further those interests; and administration of the drugs is medically appropriate.

Charles Thomas Sell, a dentist, was charged in 1997 with 56 counts of mail fraud, six counts of Medicaid fraud, and one count of money-laundering. While out on bond, Sell's mental condition deteriorated and bond was revoked in 1998. That same year, he was charged with trying to hire someone to kill the FBI agent who had arrested him.

A year later, he was deemed incompetent to stand trial and prosecutors asked that he be involuntarily medicated. A federal judge in 2000 found that Sell was a danger to himself and others and ordered the medication. Sell appealed, and in 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that defendants could be medicated against their will only in certain instances.

A federal judge in Kansas City has not ruled on the request for a hearing to decide if Falco can be involuntarily medicated. Falco remains incarcerated without bond in Leavenworth, Kan.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Kansas City said prosecutors had no comment on the case. Falco's defense attorney, Laine Cardarella, did not return phone messages seeking comment.

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