Man Faces Federal Charge For Having Knife On Plane

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A man who told a radio talk show that he got through an airport security checkpoint with a hunting knife in his belt was charged Friday with a federal offense, increasing the possible maximum penalty to 10 years in prison.

Robert Hedrick, 37, of Delaware, is charged with having a concealed weapon on board in aircraft in flight, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

A state charge of carrying a concealed weapon, filed after his arrest at Port Columbus International Airport Wednesday night, was dismissed Friday, said Ron O'Brien, the Franklin County prosecutor.

That charge carried a maximum five-year sentence.

Hedrick (pictured covering his face with a folder, above) was expected to be released Friday night, hours after his appearance in U.S. District Court, said Fred Alverson, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Terence Kemp set a property bond of $20,000 that will not require Hedrick to put up any money, Alverson said.

The bond was substantially lower than the $500,000 bond set Thursday morning in Franklin County Municipal Court, hours after his arrest.

Hedrick's lawyer, Max Kravitz, said before the hearing that he was going to try to get a lower bond.

"Now the dust has settled to some extent, it is very apparent that he was not a threat," Kravitz said.

Hedrick cleared the security checkpoint in Greensboro, N.C., on Wednesday with a belt buckle that was actually a sheath holding a 5-inch knife with a 3-inch blade, authorities said.

After arriving in Pittsburgh on US Airways Express Flight 5259, Hedrick called radio station WTVN talk show host John Corby, and told Corby that he was surprised he got through the checkpoint. He told authorities after his arrest that he didn't realize he had the knife until he had gone to the bathroom later.

Shortly after the call was broadcast, listeners began to call airport police, Columbus police and the FBI, according to a statement submitted to the federal court by FBI special agent David Stout.

Hedrick was arrested when he arrived in Columbus on US Airways Flight 1192.

Kravitz compared Hedrick's case to that of former Dallas Cowboys coach Barry Switzer, who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in 1997 for carrying a loaded gun into an airport and was ordered to pay a $3,500 fine and perform 80 hours of community service.

Switzer said then that he had forgotten he had put the .38-caliber handgun in his bag to hide it from children visiting his home.

"I'm not certainly making light of the fact that airline security is a critical issue, as it should be, but there has to be some latitude in the law for good faith mistakes," Kravitz said.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)