- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 1, 2007

BOSTON (AP) — Two men who authorities say placed electronic advertising devices around the city were released from jail yesterday, apparently amused with the publicity stunt that stirred fears of terrorism and shut down parts of the city.

Peter Berdovsky, 27, and Sean Stevens, 28, were released on $2,500 cash bond after each pleaded not guilty to placing a hoax device and disorderly conduct for a device found Wednesday at a subway station. They waved and smiled as they greeted people in court.

Outside, they met reporters and television cameras and began a nonsensical discussion of hairstyles of the 1970s. “What we really want to talk about today — it’s kind of important to some people — it’s haircuts of the 1970s,” Mr. Berdovsky said.

Officials found 38 blinking electronic signs promoting the Cartoon Network TV show “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” on bridges and other high-profile spots across the city Wednesday, prompting the closing of a highway and the deployment of bomb squads. The surreal series is about a talking milkshake, a box of fries and a meatball. The network is a division of Turner Broadcasting Systems Inc.

“It’s clear the intent was to get attention by causing fear and unrest that there was a bomb in that location,” Assistant Attorney General John Grossman said at their arraignment.

The 1-foot-tall signs, which were lit up at night, resembled a circuit board, with protruding wires and batteries. Most depicted a boxy, cartoon character giving passers-by an obscene gesture — a more obvious sight when darkness fell.

The men did not speak or enter their own pleas, but they appeared amused and smiled as the prosecutor talked about the device found at Sullivan Square subway station underneath Interstate 93, looking like it had C-4 explosive.

“The appearance of this device and its location are crucial,” Mr. Grossman said. “This device looks like a bomb.”

Outside the courthouse, Michael Rich, an attorney for both of the men, said the description of a bomblike device could be used for any electronic device.

“If somebody had left a VCR on the ground, it would have been a device with wires, electronic components and a power source,” he said.

Authorities vowed to hold Turner Broadcasting accountable for what Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said was “corporate greed,” that led to at least $750,000 in police costs.

As soon as Turner Broadcasting realized the Boston problem about 5 p.m., it said, law-enforcement officials were told of their locations in 10 cities where it said the devices had been placed for two to three weeks: Boston; New York; Los Angeles; Chicago; Atlanta; Seattle; Portland, Ore.; Austin, Texas; San Francisco; and Philadelphia.

Mr. Kent said the marketing company that placed the signs, Interference Inc., was ordered to remove them immediately.

In Seattle and several suburbs, the removal of the signs was low-key. “We haven’t had any calls to 911 regarding this,” Seattle police spokesman Sean Whitcomb said Wednesday.

Police in Philadelphia said they thought their city had 56 devices.

The New York Police Department removed 41 of the devices — 38 in Manhattan and three in Brooklyn, said spokesman Paul Browne. The NYPD had not received any complaints.

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