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Deal may be cut in airport bomb threat case

D.A., defense lawyer negotiating resolution for man who claims he was joking

Posted: Wednesday, September 26, 2001

Prosecutors are looking for a resolution in the case of a man accused of terroristic threatening at an Alaska Airlines counter in Juneau earlier this week.

James Longcroft, 29, a United Kingdom citizen, was arraigned Tuesday in Juneau District Court on a charge of felony terroristic threatening stemming from an incident Sunday when he allegedly told an airline employee he had a bomb in his bag. Longcroft allegedly then said he was joking.

Bail was set at $5,000 and posted. However, because Longcroft is not a U.S. citizen and is accused of a crime, federal immigration officials are not allowing him to be released, said defense attorney Louis Menendez.

Assistant District Attorney David Brower said he is looking to resolve the matter quickly. Menendez confirmed discussions have taken place.

"Right now he's charged with terroristic threatening but we are looking to see if another charge might fit," Brower said. "There is also an indication that there could be some restitution to the airline involved."

Menendez said Longcroft is a machinist with a boat manufacturer in Portsmouth, England, who makes his living traveling around the world working on sailing vessels. Police said he came to Juneau to work on a cruise ship.

He arrived at the airport Sunday and was told by an airline employee one of his bags was lost, which is when he joked about a bomb, police said.

"There were three planes driven into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon two weeks ago," Brower said. "If any of those people had said 'We have box cutters and we're going to hijack the plane, oh, but we're just kidding,' shouldn't it have been taken seriously?"

Brower said since the first hijacking on record in the 1970s, all airport threats have been taken seriously.

"You just don't say certain things anymore," he said. "It's something that has to be taken very seriously."

Brower said threats are not part of First Amendment free speech rights.

"If someone holds a gun to your head and says 'I'm going to kill you,' it's not protected," Brower said. "There's just some speech that should not be protected."

Police earlier reported Longcroft was Irish. The United Kingdom includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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Melanie Plenda can be reached at mplenda@juneauempire.com.



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