$5M Airport Security Suit Is Over 'Explosive' Peanut Butter Arrest

Wednesday, 13 Feb 2013 04:22 PM

By Alexandra Ward

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A man is suing a TSA worker and a Port Authority cop at New York City's LaGuardia Airport for $5 million for imprisoning him after he joked that the peanut butter they confiscated was actually an "explosive," the New York Daily News reported Wednesday.

In a complaint filed with the Brooklyn Federal Court, Frank Hannibal, 50, claims he was detained at airport security when the screener noticed a layer of oil on top of Hannibal's jar of gourmet Crazy Richard's peanut butter. As he was being removed from the line for further investigation, Hannibal quipped to his wife and kids, "They're looking to confiscate my explosives," according to court papers obtained by the Daily News.

A TSA worker overheard the comment, cuffed Hannibal, and charged him with falsely reporting an incident, a felony. He was reportedly detained for more than 25 hours, he said, before he was eventually allowed to leave. The district attorney declined to prosecute him.

The TSA prohibits passengers from carrying on liquids in containers larger than three ounces to prevent the possibility of a liquid explosive being brought aboard a jetliner.

Ironically, Hannibal said, he was served a peanut butter and jelly sandwich while in lockup.

"The jelly looked like pus, the peanut butter like God knows what and the bread was hard as a rock," he told the Daily News.

Now Hannibal, who lived in New York at the time but now lives in Arizona, wants $5 million for his troubles.

"It sounds laughable now, but at the time to be led out of there like a terrorist was unbelievable," Hannibal told the Daily News. "My whole life was up in the air. It was a nightmare. My children were overwhelmed. It was crazy."

Alan Levine, Hannibal's lawyer, said the situation could have been avoided if airport authorities had exercised common sense.

"It's a sorry state of affairs in this country when sarcasm is considered a felony," Levine told the Daily News.

Related stories:

Rand Paul to Try and Scale Back TSA

Video Shocker: TSA Aggressively Pats Down Congressman

Outraged Mom: TSA Treated My Little Girl Like a Terrorist

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