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LAX dry-ice bomb suspect pleads not guilty

October 17, 2013|By Kate Mather and Richard Winton

The ground service employee accused of leaving dry-ice bombs at Los Angeles International Airport pleaded not guilty Thursday to two counts of possession of a destructive device in a public place.

Bail for Dicarlo Bennett, 28, of Paramount was set at $1 million, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office said. His next court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday.

Authorities allege that Bennett -- who worked for LAX ground service provider Servisair -- placed two dry-ice bombs in employee-only areas Sunday. One such bomb exploded in a Terminal 2 restroom, and one went off outside the Tom Bradley International terminal.

The second device, along with a third dry-ice bomb, was not discovered until Monday, Los Angeles police said. No injuries were reported in either incident.

The devices drew the LAPD bomb squad to the airport two days in a row, delaying some flights Sunday and prompting increased security. Police officials said that there was no link to terrorism and that Bennett's intentions were his own amusement.

"He was a prankster," Deputy Chief Michael Downing said. "He thought it was funny.” Although, Downing added, “there is nothing funny about what he did."

Bennett "was an employee of Servisair" -- which provides ground services to the airport -- "at the time of the incident," the company confirmed Wednesday. A Facebook account registered in Bennett's name said he was a former ramp supervisor for the company.

Servisair officials did not elaborate on Bennett's employment status after his arrest, citing "privacy considerations." In a statement, the company said it was "cooperating with authorities and will continue to monitor the situation closely."

Downing said there was no video footage of Bennett but "plenty" of evidence linking him to the dry-ice bombs.

Before Bennett's arrest, L.A. Police Chief Charlie Beck said that the devices were "more of a noise device than a device that causes damage" but that officials were still taking the case seriously. He said police would push to have anyone arrested "vigorously" prosecuted.

"Whether you think this is a harmless prank or a way to disrupt operations at the airport, it won't matter," Beck said. "You will go to jail."

If convicted of the charges, Bennett faces up to six years in county jail.

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kate.mather@latimes.com

richard.winton@latimes.com

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