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Man Gets Probation for Box Cutters on Flights

June 25, 2004|From Associated Press

BALTIMORE — A college student who said he hid box cutters on airplanes to expose weaknesses in security was sentenced Thursday to two years of supervised probation and fined $500.

Nathaniel Heatwole also must serve 100 hours of community service and reimburse his parents for up to $500 in legal expenses.

Heatwole, 21, told U.S. District Judge Paul Grimm that his intentions were constructive and that he never meant to embarrass security officials or put anyone in danger. But the judge said Heatwole's actions "produced an opposite effect."

The best way to bring about change is "civilly, rationally and openly," Grimm told the student.

Prosecutors initially charged Heatwole with a felony -- taking a dangerous weapon aboard an aircraft -- at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. That charge carried a possible 10-year prison sentence. The charge was reduced to a misdemeanor.

Heatwole placed three disassembled box cutters and razor blades with tape over the sharp edges on a Southwest Airlines flight Sept. 14.

After the items were found, he admitted that on that flight and three others he had smuggled aboard such items as matches, bleach and modeling clay made to look like plastic explosives.

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