Washington: A US court fined a Venezuelan traveller $89,000 for joking that he was carrying explosives in his luggage, for which the authorities declared a security alert at two terminals at Miami international airport in October.
The money that Manuel Alberto Alvarado, 60, must pay will serve to defray the cost of flight delays caused to five airlines at Miami International Airport (MIA), channel NBC 6 reported.
Alvarado, a surgeon by profession who is on $50,000 bail, at first faced criminal charges for saying he was carrying a bomb in his luggage and then saying it was only a wisecrack.
But in the end the district attorney’s office decided not to file formal charges for the false bomb scare against Alvarado, who apologised in writing for what he did.
“I’m ashamed and I’m sorry for the stupidity of what I said. I am very sorry,” the Venezuelan doctor said.
Prosecutors said it was no joke to frighten passengers, cause flight delays and shut down two of the airport’s terminals for three hours because of a fake bomb scare.
After the supposed threat, agents launched a search operation but found no explosives.
Alvarado’s attorney Brian Bieber at first denied that his client said he had explosives in his luggage Wednesday, minutes before boarding a plane, and said it was all a “misunderstanding.”
Bieber later said, however, that “he is extremely remorseful. He had no intent to place anyone in fear. He made what turned out to be the worst mistake of his life.”
Alvarado, who has no criminal record, was boarding an Avianca airliner at MIA for a flight to Colombia.