PHILADEPHIA (AP) – A Pennsylvania man now faces federal charges for calling in a fake threat that led to a Dallas-bound plane being turned around midair. 26-year-old Kenneth W. Smith Jr. is charged with conveying false and misleading information. A federal judge agreed to release Smith on his own recognizance after a court hearing Friday afternoon.
According to the criminal complaint, Smith called police at the airport on Thursday and falsely reported a passenger was carrying an explosive substance.
Authorities then recalled a Dallas-bound US Airways flight to Philadelphia. Passenger Christopher Shell was taken off the plane at gunpoint by law enforcement officers, who later said Shell did nothing wrong. Authorities say the fake threat was the result of a love triangle.
If convicted, Smith faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and possible restitution.
Shell was arrested late Thursday for outstanding warrants in Collin County. Online court records show he skipped a court appearance earlier this year on two misdemeanor charges for marijuana possession in McKinney. He posted bail on Friday and has declined comment.
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