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Man Charged in Airline Extortion Try

January 16, 1994

FBI agents arrested a man who allegedly tried to extort $1.5 million from United Airlines by threatening to shoot down an airliner bound for Los Angeles.

Orvile Spence, 48, was arrested Friday night in the Lennox area as he attempted to pick up the money he demanded, said Charlie Parsons, special agent in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles office.

About noon Friday, Spence telephoned United Airlines officials in Chicago and threatened to use a Vietnam War-era weapon known as a Law rocket to shoot down a Los Angeles-bound passenger jet, Parsons said. Spence also made similar calls to United Airlines in Los Angeles, he said.

Spence was arraigned Saturday and charged with extortion. If convicted, he could face 20 years in federal prison and a fine of $10,000.

FBI officials did not say where Spence lived and were unsure whether he possessed a Law rocket.

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