Venezuelan surgeon pays big for MIA bomb joke

Dr. Manuel Alvarado to pay nearly $90K to airline, police dept.


MIAMI – A 60-year-old Venezuelan neurosurgeon who allegedly claimed that he had explosives in his luggage as he was getting ready to board an Avianca flight to Colombia has agreed to pay $89,172.53 for the "joke" that shut down two concourses at Miami International Airport two months ago.

Dr. Manuel Alvarado's attorney, Brian Bieber, said his client was sleep deprived the day of the incident and that he suffered from a momentary lapse of reason.

Prosecutors decided against filing formal charges of making a false bomb threat and criminal mischief after Alvarado agreed to pay the nearly $90,000 for the mistake that caused thousands of passengers to be delayed.

Officials said $84,000 of the money Alvarado will pay will go to the five airlines that were delayed due to his claim.

"I commend the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office for evaluating the facts and making the right decision," Bieber said.

A majority of the rest of the money will go the the Miami-Dade Police Department, which was responsible for deploying the bomb squad to search the doctor's luggage.

"I feel very ashamed and sorry for that stupid thing I said," Alvarado wrote in a confession. "I am very, very sorry."

Bieber said in the post-911 era, it isn't uncommon for airlines to request restitution from passengers in certain cases.