ALLENTOWN, Pa. | After a man allegedly called in a hoax bomb threat to the Lehigh Valley International Airport in search of his daughter, he is facing the serious consequences.
Acting United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Donald Thompson, 43, of Scottdale, Georgia, was arrested and is facing charges of maliciously conveying false information about an explosive.
If convicted, officials say the defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of 15 years in prison.
The Complaint alleges that on May 27, Thompson called into the Lehigh Valley International Airport, Operations Division, and stated that he had a disagreement with his daughter.
Reports say, that he claimed she was taking marijuana to an individual in St. Croix aboard a Delta flight. After a short discussion, the Operations Division transferred him to the Delta counter.
The Complaint further alleges that the defendant proceeded to ask a Delta supervisory representative for information about his daughter's travel, official reports say.
When the Delta representative declined to share the requested information, the defendant allegedly explained that his daughter was trying to smuggle drugs to St. Croix, asked about Delta’s procedures, and asked if they could get his daughter off the airplane.
The Delta representative responded that Delta did have a protocol in place but that it could not be shared with the caller, officials say.
As alleged, the caller became angry, identified himself as the father, Donald Thompson, and asked what the Delta representative would do if “I told you there was a bomb on the plane,” officials believe, and hung up the phone.
The Delta representative says they immediately called law enforcement and corporate security. The airplane was on the tarmac at the time, and the passengers and crew were deplaned. A search team and bomb dog were deployed to the airplane, and the defendant's daughter was screened and questioned by a Lehigh Northampton Airport Authority detective, stated officials.
No drugs or bombs were located or reported on the airplane, or on the daughter's person or luggage.
Thompson was arrested on June 9, in Georgia and had his initial appearance that same day, records stated.
A detention hearing has been scheduled for June 14, 2021 in the Northern District of Georgia, after which the defendant will come to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to face the charges.
“As a result of this defendant's alleged conduct, law enforcement resources were diverted to respond to what they believed was an imminent, terrifying threat to everyone on the plane and in the airport,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Williams. “As this case exemplifies, bomb threats – even hoax bomb threats such as the one alleged to have been made by this defendant – are no laughing matter; they are federal crimes with serious consequences.”
“The FBI and our partners take all threats of violence seriously. With lives potentially at risk, we have to,” said Michael J. Driscoll, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Philadelphia Division. “Hoax threats consume law enforcement resources needed for actual emergencies and cause serious disruptions for the locations and people targeted.”
The case was investigated by Allentown Resident Federal Bureau of Investigation, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mary A. Futcher, say officials.