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Feds: Mary Purcell sentenced for making 9/11 anniversary bomb threat

Mary Purcell leaves federal court in Central Islip

Mary Purcell leaves federal court in Central Islip on Sept. 13, 2011 after her brother posted a $200,000 bond for her release. Parcell is accused of phoning it a bomb threat so her sister and brother wouldn't fly on Sept. 11. Credit: James Carbone

A Lake Ronkonkoma woman was sentenced to a year in prison Friday for phoning in a bogus bomb threat against a Southwest Airlines flight the day before the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Mary Purcell, 39, admitted calling in the threat to the Tucson airport because her mother and brother were there and scheduled to take a flight back to Long Island. Purcell said she feared for their safety and didn't want them flying that day, according to the criminal complaint.

U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert could have sentenced Purcell to more than 30 months in prison.

"The defendant's actions closed down the airport, created panic among travelers and, most importantly, diverted valuable law enforcement resources and attention from any real terror threats," Eastern District U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said.

Purcell's attorney, Randi Chavis, declined to comment after sentencing in U.S. District Court in Central Islip. Chavis has stated that her client is undergoing psychiatric counseling.

When she pleaded guilty last year, Purcell admitted to lying about a plot to explode a bomb aboard Southwest Flight 2475 when it arrived in New York.

"I warned them not to let Flight 2475 depart . . . and I stated that there was a bomb on the plane," she said.

Because of the threat, the Tucson police bomb squad searched the plane with nine police dogs, unloaded all its luggage and tested it for explosives, officials said. Passengers were put through additional security screening.


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