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Suspect In Airport Hoax At PHL Formally Charged With Crime

(Kenneth Smith Jr., outside the federal courthouse in Philadelphia last September.  Credit: CBS3)

(Kenneth Smith Jr., outside the federal courthouse in Philadelphia last September. Credit: CBS3)

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A man believed to be responsible for a hoax at Philadelphia International Airport that diverted a US Airways flight has been formally charged.

Kenneth W. Smith, Jr., 26, of Philadelphia, was indicted on Monday in relation to the September 2012 incident. 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 that had departed from Philadelphia on Sept. 6, 2012 (see previous story).

The flight was diverted back to PHL, where Shell was removed from the plane in handcuffs and taken in for questioning. No explosives were found, and 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 is charged with malicious false information about an explosive and false information and hoaxes. If convicted of both charges, he faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, a fine of up to $500,000, supervised release and possible restitution for the costs associated with the crime, which was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Philadelphia Police Department, the Transportation Security Administration, and the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General.