Officials found 38 blinking electronic signs promoting the Cartoon Network TV show "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" on bridges and other high-profile spots across the city Wednesday, prompting the closing of a highway and the deployment of bomb squads. The surreal series is about a talking milkshake, a box of fries and a meatball. The network is a division of Turner Broadcasting Systems Inc.And if that isn't bad enough (and it is), here's where the case falls apart on legal grounds:
"It's clear the intent was to get attention by causing fear and unrest that there was a bomb in that location," Assistant Attorney General John Grossman said at their arraignment.
The 1-foot tall signs, which were lit up at night, resembled a circuit board, with protruding wires and batteries. Most depicted a boxy, cartoon character giving passersby the finger — a more obvious sight when darkness fell.
The men did not speak or enter their own pleas, but they appeared amused and smiled as the prosecutor talked about the device found at Sullivan Station underneath Interstate 93, looking like it had C-4 explosive.
"The appearance of this device and its location are crucial," Grossman said. "This device looks like a bomb."
Some in the gallery snickered.
Outside the courthouse, Michael Rich, a lawyer for both of the men, said the description of a bomb-like device could be used for any electronic device.That's called "unconstitutionally vague," and it's deadly in criminal cases. And here's the other reason:
"If somebody had left a VCR on the ground it would have been a device with wires, electronic components and a power source," he said.
Judge Paul K. Leary told Grossman that, according to law, the suspects must intend to create a panic to be charged with placing hoax devices.So, a judge who says "Huh?" at first blush, and snickers in the gallery.
It appears the suspects had no such intent, the judge said, but the question should be discussed in a later hearing.
Peter Berdovsky and Sean Stevens were released on $2,500 bail, said Mike Rich, their attorney. The next pre-trial hearing is scheduled for March 7.
I'd almost pay to be the lawyer for the defendants in this case.