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Man who caused bomb scare at Penn Station pleads guilty

(The Associated Press circulated the following article on December 12.)

NEW YORK -- A man who claimed he had a bomb -- a statement that emptied busy Penn Station and halted service on Amtrak, commuter trains and subways in July -- pleaded guilty Monday to attempting to falsely report an incident.

Raul Claudio, 43, of the Bronx, admitted to the court that he warned people near him in the train station, including an Amtrak ticket agent, that his suitcase contained a bomb and "I don't care if this whole building blows up."

State Supreme Court Justice Carol Berkman promised Claudio 11/2 to three years in prison when she sentences him Dec. 22. She will also recommend that Claudio, a prior narcotics felon and admitted crack addict, receive drug treatment.

Claudio was arrested on July 24 in Penn Station when he threw a suitcase at the ticket agent and warned that it contained a bomb that he was going to detonate, a court complaint said. The threat sent crowds of people running and screaming.

Authorities said Claudio had no bomb.

The incident occurred in the wake of the London transit bombings that killed 52 people plus the four bombers and injured more than 700 on July 7, and just days after the failed bombing of London transit on July 21 when police found several unexploded devices.
Claudio, intending to travel to a drug rehabilitation program, apparently became angry after the agent refused to sell him a train ticket without valid identification, prosecutors said.

Defense lawyer Robert Race acknowledged to the court that Claudio's drug problem gave rise to the incident.

Claudio was initially charged with making a terroristic threat and falsely reporting an incident. He would have faced up to seven years in prison if he had been convicted after trial.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

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