JACKSON, Mo. - The idea seemed a long shot at best: One man would call police and accuse his friend of carrying a bomb in hopes the arresting officer would rough up the suspect enough to support a lawsuit.
Instead of a civil case windfall, Duane Haffner and Leotis Sylvester Allen are going to prison. A judge on Monday sentenced Haffner, 23, to five years for making a terroristic threat. Allen, 22, received a four-year term. Both men are from the southeast Missouri town Jackson.
"This was more a crime of stupidity rather than terrorism," Cape Girardeau County prosecutor Morley Swingle said.
Circuit Judge Ben Lewis will re-evaluate the pair's behavior in prison after 120 days and decide whether to release them on probation.
Jackson police received a call on Feb. 21 with a tip that a man planned to take a bomb hidden in his shoe into the county courthouse the next day. The caller described the clothes the man would wear down to a Timberland black hoodie.
Swingle said detectives recognized the voice of Haffner in the recorded call, checked phone records and determined the call came from a drug and alcohol treatment center where Haffner and Allen were staying. Police said Haffner admitted making the call at the direction of Allen.
Authorities said Allen paid Haffner $25 to make the call. Allen never intended to carry a bomb, but hoped to profit by being tackled by police and suing for injuries he hoped would ensue from the struggle, police said.
The law against making terroristic threats, defined as a statement made for the purpose of frightening 10 or more people, was passed by state lawmakers in 2000.
"My feeling is that 9-11 took all the humor out of bomb threats," Swingle said.
Not the sharpest tools in the shed, these guys.