MIAMI (AFP) - A doctor thought it might be funny to crack a joke about a bomb in his luggage. Instead, he partly forced the evacuation of Miami International airport, and earned a fine of more than $116,000.
Dr Manuel Alvarado, 60, will pay US$89,172 (S$116,330) for his "momentary lapse of reason in making these statements" that prompted costly evacuations and delays for airlines, and brought out a police bomb squad, said his lawyer Brian Bieber.
Just before boarding an Avianca flight to Bogota on Oct 22, a security officer asked Dr Alvarado routine questions; the Venezuelan doctor responded that he was carrying C-4 explosives.
Though he corrected himself and said he was just joking, it was too late for the airport authorities' taste. "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," Mr Bieber said.
Dr Alvarado will pay the fine in a deal that saw prosecutors agree to drop charges of making a false bomb threat and criminal mischief. Once he has paid, the surgeon can return home, the attorney added.
Since the Sept 11, 2001 strikes on United States targets, penalties for making bomb threats have become increasingly severe.