It was one costly quip for a prominent Venezuelan neurosurgeon at Miami International Airport.
Dr. Manuel Alvarado has agreed to pay a whopping $89,172.53 after an ill-advised bomb joke sparked a massive police response and shut down two concourses two months ago.
Nearly $84,000 of that will go to five airlines that had to delay flights after Alvarado told a gate agent that he had explosives in his luggage. Most of the rest of the money will go to Miami-Dade Police, which deployed the bomb squad to search the doc’s luggage.
No explosives were found.
With Alvarado agreeing to pay for his mistake, prosecutors have decided against filing formal charges of making a false bomb threat and criminal mischief.
“I commend the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office for evaluating the facts and making the right decision,” said his defense attorney, Brian Bieber.
Back on Oct. 22, the 60-year-old surgeon was flying to Bogota, Colombia, when an Avianca ticket agent asked the perfunctory question: Do you have any explosives in your luggage?
He replied “C-4.” The agent asked if that was a gun. Alvarado explained it was an explosive. The agent quickly summoned Miami-Dade police.
Thousands of passengers were delayed as Alvarado pleaded that he had just made a joke. Police arrested Alvarado, who lives and works in Venezuela.
His attorney said Alvarado was “sleep deprived” that day.
“I feel very ashamed and sorry for that stupid thing I said,” Alvarado wrote in a confession. “I am very, very sorry.”