Port Mechanic Convicted

A port employee, who initiated a bomb hoax as part of a ruse during a heightened awareness drill, has been convicted and sentenced to house arrest.

Port Mechanic Convicted and Sentenced for Planting a Fake Bomb That Forced a Port Terminal Evacuation

LOS ANGELES – A port employee, who initiated a bomb hoax as part of a ruse during a heightened awareness drill, was convicted and sentenced to house arrest. The discovery of the device, placed on a movable forklift, caused the complete evacuation of a shipping terminal at the Port of Los Angeles for several hours costing over $100,000 in mitigation.

“Ensuring the security and safety of the men and women working at our Port is one of our top priorities,” said City Attorney Carmen Trutanich. “We will continue to hold accountable those who act in a reckless manner and needlessly divert needed city resources for a foolish stunt.”

John Edward Bearden, 41, a mechanic formerly employed at the Port of Los Angeles Tugboat facility on Terminal Island, entered a plea of no contest to planting a fake bomb and was sentenced to 150 days of house arrest and 36 months of summary probation. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Laura Laesecke also ordered Bearden to stay away from Westoil Marine Services, Millennium Marine, and Harley Marine, at Berth LA 301 on Terminal Island.

On June 20, 2012, Bearden attached a fake bomb to a forklift on Port property at the Millennium Marine facility on the same day as a planned Coast Guard-supervised emergency awareness drill. A forklift operator discovered the device, which resembled an explosive, after it had been moved to the other side of the dock and contacted Port authorities. The device was constructed from metal oil filters, electrical batteries and wires bound with silver duct tape and black electrical tape and had a note attached to the bottom reading, “this is for the drill.”

As a result, the Millennium Marine tugboat facility, as well as an adjacent shipping terminal, was evacuated for several hours. The LAPD Bomb Squad was sent to investigate and subsequently determined the device was a fake. Police identified Bearden as the maker of the device after speaking with Bearden’s co-workers who were told by Bearden he had made the device to “see how long it would take the mechanics to find.” Bearden was subsequently terminated from his port position two days after the incident and his security access revoked.

The Port of Los Angeles incurred an estimated total response cost of over $126,000 in deployed officers and resources to shut down terminals and evacuate employees. A restitution hearing is scheduled for June 27, 2013 in Department 1 of the Long Beach Court.

This case was successfully prosecuted by the San Pedro Branch of the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office, including Deputy City Attorneys Giselle Fernandez, Jacquelyn Lawson, and Christian Commelin and Supervising Deputy City Attorney June Magilnick.

Source: LA City Attorney.

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