By Tim Jimenez, Diana Rocco, Elizabeth Hur
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Charges have been filed against a Philadelphia man in connection with a US Airways hoax yesterday (see previous story).
Kenneth Smith Jr., 26, is now facing federal charges. Authorities say he called airport police saying his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend, 29-year-old Christopher Shell, had a liquid explosive on him aboard a US Airways flight to Dallas.
The flight was diverted back to Philadelphia, and police took Shell off the plane in handcuffs for questioning.
No explosives were found. Police say it was a hoax by Smith to get back at Shell for allegedly posting compromising pictures of his ex-girlfriend on Facebook.
Smith’s attorney says, “My client is very, very sobered by the amount of attention this has received. He’s not happy about it. He’s, again, embarrassed.”
Authorities say Smith called in the false tip from a payphone using the name “George Michaels.” Investigators tracked him down at work, taking him in for questioning. Now, Smith could face up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and possible restitution. He is free on $250,000 bail and has been ordered to have no contact with Shell.
“Mr. Smith is charged with two different federal crimes that in essence make it a felony crime to use a telephone to make a false report about possible explosives on aircraft,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbitter Williams.
As for Shell, he was arrested on an outstanding warrant on drug charges when he eventually arrived in Dallas.