Reality TV show crew cleared in fake-bomb threat at airport

Prosecutors have dismissed all charges against a television crew accused of creating a false public alarm and other counts after one of their devices prompted a fake-bomb alert at Newark Liberty International Airport.
Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert Laurino announced the decision Friday. Laurino says his office couldn't prove that the nine people charged intended to commit a criminal act.
The creators of the CNBC reality show "Staten Island Hustle" have said the crew was shooting an episode about a vacuum device used to compress luggage when it prompted the alert Jan. 18 at Newark Liberty International Airport.
The Transportation Security Administration screeners say that they found PVC pipes, a motor and wires inside a carryon suitcase belonging to cast member Ronald Montano. Montano had a boarding pass, but raised additional alarm when he said that he had no plans to get on the flight.
The TSA said that screeners believed the device was a fake bomb. It says parts of the gadget were "indicators of an improvised explosive device."
But the device was actually a prototype of a new, shrinkable suitcase the crew was testing.
It was clear that the intent was to see if the bag comported with TSA regulations, not to commit a criminal offense,” Laurino says. “This is not a case of ‘Gotcha’ where they were trying to sneak contraband past the TSA. They were actually hoping to show the invention was TSA-compliant so that it could be marketed.”
Laurino says that the only thing the nine defendants were guilty of is “extraordinarily poor judgement."
"Staten Island Hustle" documents a group of investors searching for unconventional products.
The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.