CBSN

Publicity Stunt Suspects Released

Sean Stevens, 28, left, and Peter Berdovsky, 27, react during their arraignment in Charlestown District Court in Boston Thursday, Feb. 1, 2007
AP Photo/Bizuayehu Tesfaye
Two men who authorities say placed electronic advertising around the city were released from jail Thursday, 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 placing an ad found Wednesday at a subway station. They waved and smiled as they greeted people in court.

Outside, they met reporters and television cameras and launched into a nonsensical discussion of hair styles 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," 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.

The 1-foot tall signs, which were lit up, resembled a circuit board, with protruding wires and batteries. Most depicted a boxy, cartoon character giving passersby the finger — a more obvious sight when darkness fell.

"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.

Berdovsky posted video on the Web of him placing the devices around Boston, reported The Early Show correspondent Joie Chen.

The devices were planted in nine other cities, but with far less dramatic results. New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle, Portland, Ore., Austin, Texas, San Francisco and Philadelphia all had the devices for the past few weeks, Chen reported.

Chicago police said Thursday they questioned two men who posted 20 electronic advertising devices around Chicago as part of the nationwide publicity ploy.

Police Superintendent Phil Cline says the two men haven't been charged. They were both released after questioning.The signs were recovered yesterday from locations around Chicago, including CTA trains, elevated platforms and storefronts

In the Boston case, 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 Station underneath Interstate 93, looking like it had C-4 explosive.

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

Some in the gallery snickered.

Outside the courthouse, Michael Rich, a lawyer for both of the men, said the description of a bomb-like 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.

Boston officials were livid when the devices were discovered.