A Chicago man arrested after telling a flight attendant he might have a bomb in his carry-on luggage later told authorities he had been making a joke.
Draco Slaughter, 75, was ordered held on $50,000 bail Monday at his arraignment in Suffolk County District Court. His court-appointed attorney entered a not guilty plea on his behalf to a charge of reporting a false incident, a felony.
Wearing a red bowling shirt, Slaughter seemed anxious to tell District Court Judge William Ford what had happened, but his attorney cautioned him to remain silent during the proceeding.
Draco was arrested after Southwest Airlines Flight 373 from Chicago had arrived at about 2:35 p.m. Sunday at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma, about 50 miles east of New York City. As passengers were exiting the Boeing 737, a flight attendant noticed a carry-on bag near the rear of the jetliner and asked those nearby if they knew its owner.
"I said it was mine and kidding I also said that there could be a bomb in there," Draco said in his statement to police following his arrest. He conceded the flight attendant immediately warned him he could be arrested for what he had said.
As he left the aircraft, he was met by security personnel, who took him into custody.
A two-hour search of the jetliner turned up nothing dangerous. The plane was permitted to proceed to its final destination, West Palm Beach, Fla., at about 5 p.m.
"We take this stuff very seriously," MacArthur Airport Commissioner Teresa Rizzuto told reporters afterward.
Slaughter was represented Monday by an attorney for Legal Aid, which does not comment on pending cases. A message left by The Associated Press at Slaughter's Chicago home was not immediately returned.
Slaughter is due back in court on Friday. If convicted, he could face up to seven years in prison.