LI woman pleads guilty in false bomb threat

A Lake Ronkonkoma woman has pleaded guilty to phoning in a false bomb threat to an Arizona airport in September 2011 because she did not want her mother and brother to fly back to Long Island on the eve of the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, officials said.

Mary Purcell, of 8 Gail Dr., admitted in federal District Court in Central Islip on Friday that she called the Tucson airport on Sept. 10, 2011, because her mother and brother were scheduled to take a Southwest flight to Long Island by way of Baltimore, officials said.

Purcell said, according to officials, "I told them that I overhead my boyfriend and his friends talking about carrying out a bombing of Flight 2475 when it got to New York. . . . I warned them not to let Flight 2475 depart . . . and I stated that there was a bomb on the plane.


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"However, I knew that the information was false and that there was no bomb on the plane," Purcell testified. "I made up the story because I did not want my mother and brother flying around the anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks."

As a result of the call, Tucson bomb squad officers removed all the luggage from the plane, swabbed the luggage for traces of explosives, and searched the plane aided by nine police dogs and their handlers, according to an arrest warrant for Purcell signed by an FBI agent.

The passengers also were rescreened and security around the airport was increased, the warrant said.

No bomb was found.

FBI agents on Long Island arrested Purcell several days later.

She was released after a hearing on a $200,000 bond signed by her mother and brother.

Purcell's attorney, Randi Chavis, with the Federal Defenders of New York in Central Islip, said at the time that her client was on parole after a forgery conviction and had been receiving counseling for mental health problems.

Eastern District federal prosecutor John Durham declined to comment Monday; Purcell's attorney could not be reached for comment. Purcell faces up to 10 years in prison when she is sentenced.

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