‘Personal Grievance’ Prompts Oregon Man To Tell Airports Relatives Are Terrorists

Tensions can run high around family weddings, but an Oregon man took his resentment to new heights when he made two phone calls to airports falsely claiming his father and brother were terrorists, according his own admission in a plea deal.

Sonny Donnie Smith’s calls resulted in the temporary detainment and questioning of his father and brother and a missed flight. The reason? Smith was told he was not welcome at a family wedding the Smiths were traveling to, according to the plea agreement filed on Thursday.

The 38-year-old from Clackamas, Ore., made the calls on Sept. 3, 2016 to McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas and Midland International Air and Space Port in Midland, Texas.

Smith waived indictment by a federal grand jury to plead guilty to the charge of anonymous telecommunications harassment.

The calls prompted the FBI to get involved, before investigators realized it was nothing more than a hoax.

“Today’s technology makes some believe they can anonymously create chaos to resolve personal grievances,” said Renn Cannon, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon in a statement. He added that the phony calls forced the bureau to expend limited resources “potentially delaying response to other serious incidents and real victims.”

Billy J. Williams, Oregon’s U.S. Attorney, said in a statement, “False reports intended to harass others waste law enforcement time and resources and will be prosecuted accordingly.”

Smith is facing a maximum prison term of two years, a $250,000 fine and a year of supervised release. He is awaiting sentencing on May 10.

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